Sunday, November 25, 2012
  Confirmation bias while disproving confirmation bias

From Science Daily:
Contrary to popular belief, there is no connection between lunar phases and the incidence of psychological problems. This is the conclusion reached by a team of researchers directed by Professor Geneviève Belleville of Université Laval's School of Psychology after having examined the relationship between the moon's phases and the number of patients who show up at hospital emergency rooms experiencing psychological problems.

To determine whether the widespread belief linking the moon to mental health problems was true, researchers evaluated patients who visited emergency rooms at Montreal's Sacré-Coeur Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis between March 2005 and April 2008. They focused specifically on 771 individuals who showed up at the emergency room with chest pains for which no medical cause could be determined. Psychological evaluations revealed that a sizeable number of these patients suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts. Using lunar calendars, the researchers determined the moon phase in which each of these visits occurred. The results of their analyses revealed no link between the incidence of psychological problems and the four lunar phases. There was one exception, however; anxiety disorders were 32% less frequent during the last lunar quarter.
You fucking monsters, that's not an "exception", that's a highly significant connection between moon phases and psychological conditions, and it's in the predicted direction. If anxiety was LESS FREQUENT in the last quarter, that means it was MORE FREQUENT near the full moon.

Beautiful example of confirmation bias in a study designed to disprove confirmation bias.

Supposedly doctors and cops are aware that the moon is full, so they tend to attribute every unusual event during a full moon to the tidal effect. These "scientists" were determined to disprove the full-moon confirmation bias, because "scientists" believe above all in absolute randomness. Anyone who tries to impute a cause to any event must be ruthlessly and murderously dissuaded from his Mistaken Infidel Beliefs. (The one big exception to universal randomness, of course, is Today's Bad Weather, which is always caused by Evil KKKarbon. Anyone who tries to impute randomness or natural cycles to Today's Bad Weather must be ruthlessly and murderously dissuaded from his Mistaken Infidel Beliefs.)

These "scientists" were so full of their own arrogance and bias that they had to treat the significant correlation as a "minor exception".

= = = = =

Later thought: There's no such thing as randomness, of course. Anything that appears "random" in Nature, whether it's "random" jumping of genes or Brownian motion, is actually the result of a chain of causation. We call it random when we can't untangle or locate the chain of causation. This doesn't mean the event is uncaused or indeterminate; it only means we're egotistical and arrogant. When a phenomenon is beyond our present understanding we give it a special name. If we're humble we call it supernatural or mysterious. If we're arrogant assholes we call it random.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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