nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

Edge.og 2014: What scientific ideas need to be retired/ part 3

Every year, Edge publishes answers to a hopefully interesting question. 2014 was about scientific ideas that are ready for retirement...

I've pulled out the bits that I think are interesting, and the result is long enough that I'm posting it in several chunks-- this is the last one. I was running out of attention now and then, so if you think I might have missed more good stuff, I suggest reading the Edge link from the bottom up.

My text is what I agree with. If you want a description of the idea that someone thinks ought to be retired, go to the link.

Evidence-based medicine shouldn't be standard practice because the "evidence" frequently isn't very good.

Mice are so different from people that it's simply useless to use them to study cancer treatment or sepsis treatment.

More detail about how mice are different from people. This could be an example of how one foundational mistake can have a huge effect. Anyone have information about whether countries other than the US depend on mouse studies?

Calculus should not be a prerequisite for studying computer programming.

Experiments trump multiple regression analysis (perhaps especially in social science) because multiple regression analysis doesn't do a good job of teasing out factors which are correlated with each other. Sounds reasonable, but I might be missing something.

Essentialism doesn't capture the complexity of the real world. I agree, and I'll add that essentialism makes it very tempting to ignore information you've got if you've already concluded that you know the essence of something you're looking at.

Malthusianism is wrong. This seems to be true currently-- and did anyone predict a considerable drop in oil prices?

"This nasty idea—that you had to be cruel to be kind to prevent population growing too fast for food supply—directly influenced heartless policy in colonial Ireland, British India, imperial Germany, eugenic California, Nazi Europe, Lyndon Johnson's aid to India and Deng Xiaoping's China. It was encountering a Malthusian tract, The Limits to Growth, that led Song Jian to recommend a one-child policy to Deng." Anyone know whether all of this is historically accurate?

However, the author claims that Mathusianism was never true, and I have no idea whether that's the case.

One genome per person oversimplifies matters. There's a lot more mosaicism and mutation than you might think.

Now that I think about it, there's a lot of evidence that women pick up cell lines from their sons-- it seems to be easy to check for Y chromosomes. Shouldn't it be just as likely that women pick up cell lines from their daughter?

Also... Timothy Leary thought that women were more mentally flexible than men because of re-imprinting during childbirth. Assuming he was actually on to something, maybe it was actually genetic changes.

Different languages might have effects on cognition, but it's not enough to add up to different worldviews. Dammit, Sapir-Whorf is so convenient for science fiction! However, even pretty weak Sapir-Whorf might be overblown.

Looking for simple explanations is a disaster in social sciences. Seems likely to me.

Maybe the Hard Problem isn't consciousness. Maybe it's coming up with thought experiments that make sense. How much is a philosophical zombie (something that behaves exactly like a person but isn't conscious-- it can do philosophy, but isn't limited to it) like a perpetual motion machine?

Mutations aren't fully random. Sounds good to me.

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