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Emerson White
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We have people alive now who claim to be more than 200 years old, that does not mean that they are that old.
 
Melba Corbett
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Emerson White wrote:
We have people alive now who claim to be more than 200 years old, that does not mean that they are that old.


Yes, and we have 50 year old people who look like they are 100.  It was my impression the human species is supposed to live at least 140 years, not the 70 or 80 they usually do now.  Even if not living that long, we should all be healthier than we are.  Living in a polluted world, under constant stress and eating less than optimally, certainly takes its toll. 
 
Emerson White
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I think that this is a good primer for why anecdotes don't make a good basis for beliefs. (off topic from what I was just talking about but very on topic for the thread)
 
Burra Maluca
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Emerson White wrote:
This is why anecdotes don't make a good basis for beliefs.


They can, however, make a very good base for further research.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Red Cloud 31 wrote:
Some of the Native Americans, in their own writings, indicate they were living to be 130 to 140 in near perfect health, before the white man came.


Except Native Americans didn't have their own writings (no written language).   

Very old people can live to a very old age.  That's certainly true. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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neoplasticity wrote:
I don't believe there is any consensus on the upper limit of human lifespan. 


To me it looks like the upper limit could be around 120 under "normal" circumstances (no special diets or special exercise, other special care, treatments, etc).  That certainly doesn't mean it might not be extended by special means.

http://www.worldoldestpeople.info/

My grandmother lived to 102.   
 
Emerson White
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I had a great grandmother reach 102 and a grandmother that's coming up on 97 but both lost their minds around 85-90.
 
paul wheaton
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If you are 20 minutes from death, and you have a crazy idea about how you might survive your current situation - and no others, it is possible that you might try that one crazy thing even though you have no anecdotal information let alone scientific research on the topic.

A great deal of "scientific research" has been skewed to fit some other agenda.

Some of the people that we want to trust to be experts in a field are, indeed, experts and will look out for our well being.  And some ... are more interested in other things.  Above, troy conveys this very message:  something effective was discovered - some people had to fight for what what was right against people who pushed for other goals.  How often does it turn out to be that a good thing is never shared because there were not good people to fight for it.

We can hear 100 similar anecdotal stories from 100 people and choose to dismiss it as unlikely.  And then we can hear 1 anecdotal story from 1 trusted source and choose to label it as probable.  Trust is a powerful and important thing.  We might even give more weight to the word of one person over 20 "scientific studies". 

I think it is healthy to keep sharing information and try to figure all of this out.  I am concerned that "the truth" could get accidentally dismissed because something was not properly qualified.    Anecdotal information can have large and significant value.  And, of course, it could just be silly.  And it could be something in between.  I hope that we treat all anecdotal information as having a full spectrum of potential.


 
Emerson White
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Imagine that I'm selling something to people who are about to die in 20 minutes, promising that it will help them (but really it will do nothing). I either A) don't realize that it does nothing because I have been fooled by over reliance on anecdotes or B) I'm a charlatan. I go around to 1000 people (10% of whom would live anyways) and sell them all a 50 dollar bottle of water with a blue sticker on it. I've made a clean 50 grand, and look 100 people lived, to use in my next marketing campaign. I'm much better off for having done so; are any of those 1000 customers better off for having tried bluesticker water? What if instead of blue sticker water they could have spent $50 on yellow sticker medication and an extra 10% could have lived? The yellow sticker medication salesmen is careful not to say things like "we are curing this disease" or "based on ancient healing methods" he just says "our 40 minute survival rate is 20% campared to 10% untreated" but me I go around and tell people that "I'm not saying anything but these 100 people say that they were cured by blue sticker water!" Now a new batch of people gets sick, will they be better off if they get exposed to the sales pitch for Blue sticker water?

That is what concerns me.

I also spend time in medical forums and on medical blogs going after bogus research, so that reasoning is less likely to sway me, that too is a problem, but I think that over reliance on anecdotes is not a way to cure that problem.
We can hear 100 similar anecdotal stories from 100 people and choose to dismiss it as unlikely.  And then we can hear 1 anecdotal story from 1 trusted source and choose to label it as probable.  Trust is a powerful and important thing.  We might even give more weight to the word of one person over 20 "scientific studies". 

Trust is a powerful thing, where as you view this as a good thing for anecdotes I view this as a negative characteristic. Our natural trust inclinations aren't very well founded, it can come down to who brought you cookies when you moved in, and who goes to the same church as you.
 
paul wheaton
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Sometimes the anecdotal is rooted in truth.  Sometimes it is not. 

I am often suspicious of claims that are absolute - especially if they do not account for anecdotal evidence to the contrary that I trust. 

Just because one person is convinced of a truth, does not make it appropriate for that one person to insist that all other parties must endorse that position. 

A person might be selling plain water as "the cure".  And, it is possible that a person could really be selling the cure as "the cure".  And there are many possible paths that that person may traveled to get to that point.

Since there are thousands of different positions, each claiming to be "the truth", it can be hard to tell which is, indeed, THE truth. 

For me, when there is an issue with thousands of "truths" that appear to be in conflict, and one party stands up and says that theirs is "the truth" while  dismissing all of the others, I tend to give less value to this one and the other 999 left are slightly elevated.  I like to hear the supporting information for a position rather than be told to accept something on faith. 

At this moment, I think polyculture still has HUGE promise.  And I continue to have powerful concerns about the pill pushing industry.  I think there are some really excellent doctors out there, and I think there are more doctors that fall short. 

Emerson, have you read the book "In defense of food"?
 
Emerson White
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paul wheaton wrote:
Sometimes the anecdotal is rooted in truth.  Sometimes it is not. 

I would posit that this isn't the issue, the issue is that sometimes an anecdote coincides with with truth. If someone drinks blue sticker water and gets better their anecdote is rooted in truth, they really did drink the water and they really did get better, but that doesn't mean that the anecdote that blue sticker water cured them coincides with truth. I'm not nearly so concerned with people lying as I am with people simply being fooled by circumstances. I do not feel like human intuition and sensory perception can give us a very deep view of the world.

I am often suspicious of claims that are absolute - especially if they do not account for anecdotal evidence to the contrary that I trust. 

I'd say that this is probably a function of the level of absolute truth that you ascribe to anecdotes, you can only hold one thing to be a bearer of absolute truth, and if you make anecdotes that bearer than any other form of proof that disagrees with them is going to make you uncomfortable. I think you are using a form of logic (that is valid and produces good results if you start with true premises) known as modus tollens which we intuitively know to be true, I suspect that you don't realize that that is what you are using.

Just because one person is convinced of a truth, does not make it appropriate for that one person to insist that all other parties must endorse that position. 

I agree with this, to an extent, I think it's pretty natural that we should want to convince others of the truth and that we should be very unhappy if not given the chance to, especially when it's something that matters.

A person might be selling plain water as "the cure".  And, it is possible that a person could really be selling the cure as "the cure".  And there are many possible paths that that person may traveled to get to that point.

Since there are thousands of different positions, each claiming to be "the truth", it can be hard to tell which is, indeed, THE truth. 

For me, when there is an issue with thousands of "truths" that appear to be in conflict, and one party stands up and says that theirs is "the truth" while  dismissing all of the others, I tend to give less value to this one and the other 999 left are slightly elevated.  I like to hear the supporting information for a position rather than be told to accept something on faith. 
I think that this is another area of strong disagreement between you and I. I think it's really easy to lead people towards your claim with out ever having the truth, or claiming it, but the person with the actual truth is entitled to proclaim it with out any punitive results. It's only when someone says that they have the truth that you can tell them to put up or shut up. Someone can say that they feel like toxic goop makes chickens taste better all day, and no one can have a retort, but when they make a truth claim you get your opportunity to rebuke them.


At this moment, I think polyculture still has HUGE promise.  And I continue to have powerful concerns about the pill pushing industry.  I think there are some really excellent doctors out there, and I think there are more doctors that fall short. 

Emerson, have you read the book "In defense of food"?



I have read the book, I am a big fan of polyculture, and think that it has some very promising health benefits. I doubt the claim that polyculture can cure cancer, I know a lot about cancer, I cultured cancer cells in a pitri dish for a summer, and really it falls within my major, and the implied claims about polyculture curing cancer fit much more closely with my understanding of anecdotes than they do with my understanding of cancer.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Emerson White wrote:
I know a lot about cancer, I cultured cancer cells in a pitri dish for a summer, and really it falls within my major, and the implied claims about polyculture curing cancer fit much more closely with my understanding of anecdotes than they do with my understanding of cancer.


Is it possible there is some understanding of cancer which you do not have?  From my own point of view, having studied something for a summer, or for a major, does not constitute a large body of knowledge about that subject. 
 
Emerson White
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I am sure that there is a great deal that I don't know about it. However what constitutes a large body of knowledge is pretty subjective (and I have studied cancer pretty extensively beyond that, reading hundreds of academic papers and several text books on the matter). An ancient physician might have been considered someone with a large body of knowledge at the time, but now you could learn what the ancient Greeks knew about cancer in a weekend.  My post graduate studies have not been inclined in that direction, but I think I'm on a pretty sound footing on the matter.
 
                                
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Cancer and heart disease research are both huge frauds, because there will probably never be a cure, but this doesn't prevent them from wasting billions on developing new pills. Money token from unknowing people who donate thinking they're helping. Sure, some may be able to heal from these diseases, but for some a lifetime of exposure to toxic environments, toxic food, stress, lack of sleep, etc. can not be undone.

Paul, I think you may be over estimating the effects of poly cultures on food nutrition. I think you may be onto something, but it seems like it would probably only account for a small percentage of the nutritional value of the food, with the majority coming from the soil quality. Humans got shorter at the dawn of agriculture not because they were growing food in mono cultures, but because they were eating a mostly grain based diet instead of the much more nutritious wild meat, fish, nuts, greens, berries, etc.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Emerson White wrote:
However what constitutes a large body of knowledge is pretty subjective


Opinions do tend to be subjective.

 
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