Assorted Links

Thanks to Vic Sarjoo, Anne Weiss, and Marian Lizzi.

11 Replies to “Assorted Links”

  1. What do you think of the evidence in your second link? They say “diets that are high in saturated fat are becoming notorious for reducing molecular substrates that support cognitive processing and increasing the risk of neurological dysfunction in both humans [3] and animals [4].”, which seems to be evidence against your animal fat hypothesis.

    [3] Greenwood, C. E. & Winocur, G. High-fat diets, insulin resistance and declining cognitive function. Neurobiol. Aging 26 (Suppl. 1), 42–45 (2005).

    [4] Molteni, R., Barnard, J. R., Ying, Z., Roberts, C. K. & Gomez-Pinilla, F. A high-fat, refined sugar diet reduces hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neuronal plasticity, and learning. Neuroscience 112, 803–814 (2002).

  2. I’ve always been a big fan of Karl Popper for his support of experimentation and his skepticism of Freud and psychology of his time (that, by itself, makes him important….Popper was an early proponent of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).

  3. thehova and Andrew, I included that link because I’ve always been anti-Karl Popper. His ideas seemed to point in the wrong direction if you wanted to do good science. For example, his emphasis on falsification. In practice, quite often, I don’t “test” theories, I assess their value — their value in finding solutions to problems, for example. When I use evolutionary ideas to suggest treatments to try, I’m not testing evolutionary theory. Nothing I know of Popper’s work shows any sign he understood this basic point. As someone has said, all theories are wrong but some are useful.

  4. Seth:

    What’s relevant to me is not what Popper “understood.” Based on my readings, I think Lakatos understood things much better, and in fact when I speak of Popperian ideas I’m generally thinking of Lakatos’s interpretation. (Lakatos himself did this, referring to constructs such as Popper_1 and Popper_2 to correspond to different, increasingly sophisticated versions of Popperianism.)

    What’s relevant to me is not what Popper “understood” but what he contributed. I think his ideas, including his emphasis on falsification, have contributed a huge amount to our understanding of the scientific process and have also served as a foundation for more sophisticated ideas such as those of Lakatos.

    When considering contributors to human knowledge, I think it’s best to take an Earl Weaver-esque approach, focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses, and put them in the lineup when appropriate. (As the publisher of two theorems, one of which is true, I have a natural sympathy for this attitude.)

    Regarding the specific question of how Popper’s ideas of falsification relate to applied statistics (including the quote at the end of Seth’s comment), you can take a look at my 2003 and 2004 papers and my recent talk. The basic idea is that, yes, we know our models are wrong before we start. The point of falsification is not to discover that which we already know, but rather to reveal the directions in which our models have problems.

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