forwarded message from John Conover

From: John Conover <>
Subject: forwarded message from John Conover
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 12:04:24 -0800

Isn't scientific induction of non-single simplex systems a great way
to do science?


BTW, such science has also been termed "saccharin science," (after the
7 major studies initiated through HEW to determine whether saccharin
is carcinogenic, at a cost of a tenth of a billion dollars-so far-all
of which turned out to be contradictory,) and "contemporary
numerology," (which is my favorite,) and a term coined by none other
than John Casti, of the International Institute of Applied Systems
Analysis, in Vienna, Austria, and formerly, a researcher at the RAND
Corporation-now with the Santa Fe Institute.

And, does saccharin cause cancer? Well, the seventh study said no, (in
the previous 6 studies, it was split half yes, half no.) So what are
we doing?  Have no fear, the eighth study is well underway ...

And, can cholesterol be controlled through diet? Well, the original
study said no, (ie., the one that the Surgeon General's office refused
to support-one way or another,) the next several studies said maybe,
and this one is inconclusive. What we need is another study, right?

Or maybe we need to use a more applicable scientific
methodology. (Note that if cholesterol related health issues are
cumulative-ie., the more you eat, over a longer time, is worse for
you-a reasonable assumption, then statistical methodology is not
applicable since, by that definition, it would be a fractal system. If
you run a series of statistical analysis on a fractal system, you will
have "conclusive" results that tend to oscillate, in a yes/no fashion,
forever. In such a case, either yes or no-take your pick-will have a
probability of remaining yes or no that is proportional to the
reciprocal of the square root of the duration of the study, ie., it is
not the size of the data that is important-it is the time over which
the data was taken that is important. Which is counter intuitive to
those that support the viewpoint that statistical analysis is a viable
method in science.)

Want another scientific truth oscillator? Can hypertension be
controlled though diet? Not surprisingly, the four studies, (fifth
underway,) are contradictory. (Bets are, that the fifth will conclude
affirmative, the sixth will conclude negative.)

And how long do you have to do measurements in a fractal system to
determine the system's characteristics with confidence? If you are
discussing things that increase the likelihood of ill health in the
few percent range, per year, (typical,) it is about a century. (This
gives a 50% confidence level that you would be correct. Increasing the
size of the study won't help-it is the duration of the study that is
important.) Being as though most of the samples in such a study won't
live that long, do to other phenomena, it presents a paradigm issue on
whether scientific method is applicable to such things at all.

(But if you do want to make a statement-it makes no difference as to
whether you are supporting the affirmative or negative of a
hypothesis-you wait until a study comes in that is counter to what you
want to support-then wait four study duration time intervals, and then
do your study. Chances are substantially better than 50/50 that you
will succeed in your quest of "proving" that your hypothesis is
"true"-no matter what you define as truth. That is why "truths" in
such scientific methodologies tend to oscillate. There have been some
allegations that such methodologies have some benefit, however, as a
WPA project for the scientific community, though.)

------- start of forwarded message (RFC 934 encapsulation) -------
Message-ID: <"LsSQS2.0.nn3.-Y49p"@netcom10>
From: John Conover <>
To: John Conover <>
Subject: Big discrepancies in diet results
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 7:23:39 PST

UPI Science News
        BOSTON, March 10 (UPI) -- Researchers at Tufts University in Boston
say they got widely varying results on the benefits of a highly promoted
low-fat, cholesterol-reducing diet aimed at cutting heart disease risk.
        The results in the 120 men and women tested ranged from a 3-percent
increase in fats called lipids to a whopping 55-percent decrease.
        Reporting in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, lead author
Dr. Ernst Schaefer said he and his team looked at lipid profiles
associated with the National Cholesterol Education Program Step 2 Diet
in five studies.
        They found changes in low-density-lipoprotein, LDL, the ``bad''
cholesterol levels varied greatly in the participants, with the average
reduction in men at 18.9 percent and in women, 15.6 percent.
        The special diet restricts total fat to less than 30 percent of total
energy, saturated fat to less than 7 percent of energy, and cholesterol
to less than 200 milligrams a day.
        Schaefer says, ``This is the strictest dietary approach for the
treatment of elevated LDL-cholesterol concentrations, used when Step 1
        The Step 1 diet calls for total fat consumption equalling less than
30 percent of total energy, saturated fat, less than 10 percent of
energy, and cholesterol, less than 300 milligrams a day.
        The concept of lowering heart disease risk through healthy diet has
been endorsed by numerous medical organizations and highly promoted in
massive public education campaigns.
        In the studies, the participants reaped the greatest cholesterol
rewards in the first four weeks.
        Dr. Ronald Krauss of the University of California, Berkeley, says
since dietary approaches to reducing coronary artery disease risks do
not affect all individuals equally, ways should be developed to predict
who will best respond to dietary changes.

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John Conover,,

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