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HuckleB's Journal
HuckleB's Journal
October 26, 2015

Even Voice Operated Devices Cause Distracted Driving


"We are in an awkward stage of technology at the moment. We have a plethora of electronic devices that we can use while driving, yet the computer technology to help us drive is not quite ready (although we are on the cusp). We may be living is a period of maximum distracted driving, with entertainment systems, now infotainment, GPS, cell phones, and complex environmental and other control to operate the car itself.

A new study shows that the problem is perhaps worse than most people realize. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Every control that a driver can operate distracts their attention from the road. This is because we have limited attention and cognitive resources. Obviously taking one’s eyes away from the road to look at controls is bad, but even without visual distraction, cognitive load is a problem.

Paying constant attention requires a lot of cognitive processing. When that processing is used for something else, there is less available for the task of driving. If you think you are particularly good at multitasking (doing two things at once) you’re not, and you may even be worse than average.



October 22, 2015

March Against Monsanto And Vaccines And Medical Science And...


These people are completely ludicrous. And they promote the sale of every piece of woo imaginable. That page makes The Onion pointless.
October 14, 2015

Viral Study That Says You Are More Likely to Be a Psychopath if You Drink Black Coffee Is Bunk


"...The authors of the study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Appetite, surveyed a total of 953 people recruited on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform about how much they like specific foods (including coffee); how much they like bitter, sweet, sour, and salty foods in general; and how much they agreed with a total of 52 statements from various personality tests. They found that people who said they liked bitter foods in general were very, very slightly more likely to have traits associated with psychopathy, narcissism, sadism, and Machiavellianism. However, there was no correlation between people liking specific bitter foods (e.g., coffee) and having these “dark” traits. How could that be?

Apparently, no one can agree on what constitutes a bitter food. When the researchers asked participants to assess the flavors of specific foods, they found that participants disagreed with the researchers over whether certain foods were bitter. The researchers thought cottage cheese, ginger ale, grapefruit juice, rye bread, and tea were bitter; participants did not. Whoops! Perhaps this explains why there was a less-than-50-percent correlation between participants saying they liked bitter foods in general and saying they liked the specific bitter foods on the list.

You might think that the lack of consensus over what “bitter” means would send the authors back to the drawing board to design a better study. Instead, the authors forged ahead, ignoring the fact that the majority of relationships between taste preferences and personality traits were statistically insignificant. Even the strongest correlation touted by the study is pretty weak: The researchers found that liking bitter foods is predictive of—at the very best—19 percent of someone’s sadism. There was a much stronger correlation between saying you like bitter foods and saying you like sour foods than there was between saying you like bitter foods and having any particular personality trait.

We should also consider the possibility that the participants didn’t take the study very seriously. (And why should they? In accordance with Mechanical Turk’s ridiculously low rates, they were paid only $0.60 to $1 for their participation.) Self-reporting is notoriously unreliable, and the study included a bunch of personality-test questions that I, personally, would have no idea how to answer. For instance, participants were asked to rate this statement on a scale from 1 (extremely uncharacteristic of me) to 5 (extremely characteristic of me): “I often find myself disagreeing with people.” What constitutes disagreement? What constitutes “often?” Does “people” include Donald Trump or just people I actually know and hang out with? If I were being paid $0.60 to answer 52 maddeningly vague questions like this, I’d probably just mark a number arbitrarily and move on as quickly as possible.


No one should be surprised.
October 13, 2015

The coordination between organic industry and "journalists" is fairly astounding.


I don't think the organic industry thought though its decision to utilize FOIAs. It looks like it's going to backfire in a rather dramatic way.
October 13, 2015

Organic Industry Works To "Replace" Neonics With Even More Toxic Pesticides



Those who think a natural toxin (and thus acceptable for organic farming pest control) is less damaging or toxic than well-tested synthetic pesticides are quite frankly very stupid. Cue our friends at the UK organic lobby, the Soil Association, who illegally granted special permission to organic farmers to use azadirachtin on apples. Azadirachtin is a natural pesticide (it is also called neem or neem oil after the tropical tree from which its toxins are extracted) with a long history of use in organic farming. It is approved as an organic pesticide in most EU countries despite lack of data (but not as a pesticide in the UK).

Now the problem is that last week the European Commission concluded that azadirachtin, commonly used by organic farmers in Europe, is seriously fatal to bumblebees even at “concentrations 50 times lower” than the recommended levels for organic farmers. The study showed that only 30% of the bumblebees survived exposure at any dose level of azadirachtin. Azadirachtin may be natural and promoted for organic farming but it is deadly to bees (although perhaps in an organic way).


And what do our jokesters at Pesticide Action Network have to say about azadirachtin? PAN recommends this organic bee-killer as an alternative to several neonicotinoids. So a toxic chemical used in organic farming that wipes 70% of bumblebees out at concentrations 50 times lower than the recommended organic farming levels is considered as a safer alternative than well-tested neonicotinoids. This type of lobbying should be criminalised (but large-scale bee deaths don’t count for much in a court of law).

I really don’t get this at all. When faced with the possibility that the data on neonicotinoids is not sufficient to be certain that they cause no potential risk to honeybees, the activists in DG Santé go full-frontal precaution. And yet faced with its own clear evidence of a natural pesticide used by organic farmers that literally exterminates bumblebees at very low doses, and everybody in Michael Flüh’s unit sheepishly look away. How do you spell stupid???


The more time we have to observe the organic industry, the more we find its unethical practices to be, uh, really, really, really, really unethical.
October 13, 2015

When the cult of “wellness” becomes unhealthy

Instagrams of green juices aren’t just annoying, says Sali Hughes, they can also help to promote misinformation that leads to eating disorders and garbled “medical” advice

"Unless your internet router died circa September 2014, you will no doubt be aware of the “wellness gurus” tearing up the book charts and all social-media platforms, particularly Instagram. These gurus are, by and large, posh white girls from Fulham and its surrounding areas, who advocate “clean eating”, with a view to living a happier, longer and healthier life.

They post an endless stream of selfies to their millions of young followers, in which they model the latest workout wear, while holding a bottle of green juice (click for brands, guys!). There are pictures of yoga poses overlooking the ocean, of superfood salads sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. And of avocado. So, so, so much avocado. Sometimes on spelt toast, sometimes on a bed of quinoa, juiced in a NutriBullet with a little organic parsley, even whipped and frozen for an “indulgent treat” reminiscent of no ice cream in the world, ever.


Nothing wrong with eating healthily though, right? The trend may be annoying, but we’ll eat more greens in the process, which is never a bad thing. I myself like the occasional juice day, and it’s absolutely true that we are too fat as a nation, and routinely exceed what is a healthy intake of sugar, salt and fat. Why not turn better eating into a business? The problem is that those evangelically showing us the other way are barely ever qualified to do so, and there are more holes in their teachings than in lactose-substitute Swiss cheese.


It’s certainly not only the girls. Only last week, a male wellness guru told me and 20 other journalists that an increase in chronic illness proved our modern diets needed taking back to neolithic times. When I pointed out that neolithic man also carked it when his testicles had barely descended, he seemed quite taken aback, as though this was some controversial theory he'd never considered. I’ve lost count of the number of people in my social circle swearing by the celebrity and guru-backed Paleo diet. One, an otherwise intelligent man, meets me for a drink then, every couple of hours, interrupts conversation to withdraw a pack of disgusting Mattessons ham slices from his breastpocket. If this is healthy living, then you’re more than welcome to it.


More of a starter piece for discussion than anything, but this trend is definitely bizarre.

October 13, 2015

Emails expose anti-GM science for hire


"EXPOSURE of a private email trail has revealed one of WA organic farmer Steve Marsh's biggest backers sought to fund "scientific" research to present in a "strategic court room" as evidence of genetically modified (GM) crops being unsafe, to help demand a moratorium.

Emails obtained under a recent US-based Freedom of Information request show the proposal in an exchange between WA organic food entrepreneur Georg Kailis and US agricultural research professor Dr Charles "Chuck" Benbrook.


Dr Benbrook is credited with publishing a 2012 study suggesting GMs had caused increased pesticide use in crop production due to glyphosate resistant weeds but the research methodology was attacked by critics.

He has also been shown to have received funding from large organic businesses like Whole Foods to conduct research during his WSU post, highlighting the benefits of organic farming and foods but has denied any conflict of interest.


Benbrook is one of the heroes of the DU anti-GMOer crowd, and he's most certainly an actual shill.
October 2, 2015

Sheriff In Charge Of Oregon Massacre Probe Posted Sandy Hook Truther Video


"The sheriff investigating a mass shooting at an Oregon community college that left at least nine people dead posted a video to Facebook in 2013 that raised questions about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin posted a link to a YouTube video called "The Sandy Hook Shooting - Fully Exposed," which summarized conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting and quickly racked up millions of views, about a month after the massacre took place.

"This makes me wonder who we can trust anymore..." Hanlin wrote. "Watch, listen, and keep an open mind."

The video opens with text that reads: "In this video I will prove to you there has been a lot of deception surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting. This is a simple, logical video. No aliens, holigrams (sic), rituals or anything like that, just facts." It then intersperses news clips from the time with text raising questions about the "official story" presented in the media, including whether there was more than one shooter and whether grieving parents were actually so-called "crisis actors."



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