"Eight different randomized controlled trials suggest you're wrong."
If the studies were done 20 years ago my guess is that the original trials were performed to see if aspirin reduced the risk of heart attacks. (At least that is what I recollect from that time period.) I doubt there were many people under 30 in those trials. I saw no indication in the linked article that ages were broken out so that one could determine whether people in their 20s who took aspirin for several years had less cancer 20 years later. Since few young people would be ex... (read more)
"Cancer is pretty lethal and we're not really good at fixing it yet, so when we find something that can really reduce the risk (and there aren't many - the only other ones I can think of are the magical substances known as not-smoking and avoiding-massive-doses-of-ionizing radiation), we should be all over that like cats on yarn."
Maintaining moderately high blood levels of vitamin D may reduce over all cancer rates by up to 30%. There is also evidence for green tea significantly reducing cancer rates.
Aspirin is an anti-coagulant so wounds take l... (read more)
Consider spermatogenesis as a model. There is a primary pool of slow dividing stem cells which are maintained in that state by local signaling from neighboring cells. In these stem cells, telomerase is sufficiently active that telomere length is preserved. The primary stem cell pool slowly replenishes a pool of fast dividing secondary stem cells in which telomerase is slightly less active. These are stem cells as the pool is largely self renewing. The secondary stem cell pool also generates progenitor cells which divide and differentiate to become sperm. T... (read more)
Scientists have already demonstrated interventions that significantly extend maximum lifespan in several species. I see no reason to believe humans will be different.
My guess is that the primary cause of human aging is a combination of "depleted" stem cells combined with a gradual disruption of regulatory homeostasis. Part of the problem with "depleted" stem cells is an accumulation of silencing errors in the stem cell DNA. Another part is a gradual breakdown in local cell signaling that regulates cell fate. I believe both problems coul... (read more)
This occurs all the time.
In 2007, 160 gynecologists were provided with the relevant health statistics needed for calculating the chances that a woman with a positive mammogram test actually has cancer. The correct answer was about 10%. The majority of them grossly overestimated the probability of cancer, answering ‘‘90%’’ or ‘‘81%.’’
When most doctors are asked to interpret probabilistic lab results they suck. The doctors just don't think that way. Instead they have learned what to say so... (read more)
My gold standard for understanding reality is science, i.e., the process of collecting data, building models, making predictions, and testing those predictions again and again and again. In the spirit of "making beliefs pay rent" if Buddist meditation leads to less distorted views of reality then I would expect that "enlightened" Buddists would make especially successful scientists. As a religious group the Jews have been far more productive than the Buddists. Apparently Buddist physicists have no special advantage at building models th... (read more)
"In what fields have Buddhist monks excelled?"Martial arts? Some other arts. Propagating a religion. Overcoming what seem to many people to be overwhelming motivations, such as the motivation to eat or to avoid extreme amounts of pain, convincing people that they are wise, maybe some memory and rapid cognition feats.
If you count Stoics as Buddhists, as I would, governing Rome & providing that part of the content of Christianity for lack of which the ancient world seems most alien.
Two other factors:
1) Population sub structure matters. Suppose a population of one million is divided into mating bands with 30 individuals. Small bands tend to lose diversity so some bands would have some of the minor alleles at higher frequency. Now suppose band X has minor alleles A1, A2, and A3 at high frequency while band Y has minor alleles A4, A5, and A6 at high frequency. The two bands meet and party. The result is kids with all 6 minor alleles. Those kids have big fitness advantage and those minor allele frequencies are significantly boosted in ... (read more)
"Why in the world should who the event happens to make a difference?"
I question the surface view of the world and the universe. E.g., I wouldn't be greatly surprised to discover that "I" am a character in a game. To the extent that I understand reality, my "evidence model" is centered on myself and diminishes as the distance from that center increases.
In the center I have my own memories combined with my direct sensory perception of my immediate environment. I also have my internal mental model of myself. This model helps me e... (read more)
"all four dice were weighted"
I used three reddish, semi-transparent plastic dice with white dots (as I always did). My opponent used standard opaque, plastic ivory dice with black dots. I noticed nothing unusual about the dice and by the end of the run I was examining dice, cups, methods of rolling closely.
"Assume that a weighted die rolls the side that it favors with probability p, each of the sides adjacent to it with probability (1-p)/4, and never rolls the side opposite the favored side."
This assumption does not match my recollectio... (read more)
"the odds against you getting the exact sequence of outcomes you do get will be astronomical"
People notice and remember things they care about. Usually people care whether they win or lose, not the exact sequence of moves that produced the result. For an event to register as unusual a person must care about the outcome and recognize that the outcome is rare. The Risk game was special because I cared enough about the outcome to notice that I was losing, because the outcome (of losing) with 26 vs. 1 armies was incredibly unlikely, and because I could calculate the odds against such an outcome occurring due to chance.
re: Recognizing low probability events.
During an eighth grade science class in Oklahoma, my older sister was watching as her teacher gave a slide presentation of his former job as a forest ranger. One of the first slides was a picture of the Yellow Stone National Park entrance sign. Four young children were climbing on the sign and parked next to the sign was a green Ford Mercury. My sister jumped out of her chair yelling, "That's us." Sure enough that picture had captured a chance encounter years ago, far away, before my sister and her teacher h... (read more)
"...it would often roll a 6, sometimes roll a number adjacent to 6..."
Assuming standard probability applied to my three dice, the odds of my rolling at least one 6 are 1 - (5/6)^3 or approximately 0.4. Assume that the "trick" die rolls a 6 half the time. (Remember I was watching as my opponent also rolled 5's, 4's, and 3's.) Then the probability that I would win a battle is at least 0.4 x 0.5 = 0.2. The attacker odds are actually higher since the attacker would usually win if the defender rolls anything but a 6. My estimate is that wit... (read more)
re: Magician's Trick
My friends had the opportunity to trick me since we regularly played Risk (and I would have been highly amused if they had done so). Since the dice were mine and were distinctive they would have had to get trick dice that matched my own. Then they would have had to wait for the right game opportunity, e.g., my 26 armies against my opponent's last remaining army on his last territory. Knowing my friends very well, it doesn't seem likely to me that they would go to all that trouble and then never laugh about how they fooled me.
My friends ... (read more)