Scientists Hint That Water Perhaps Might Possibly Be Good For Kids


When I was a kid they had these things called drinking fountains in public places. Schools had ’em, too. They stood about yea-high. You’d push a button and water would come out which you could drink. This was before scientists figured out how to sell plastic-encapsulated water at enormously inflated rates. Progress.

There’s been so much progress that it’s hard to find water fountains these days. The scarcity got some scientists thinking: what would happen if water were available to school kids? And not just water. Water jets. Yes, water which has been “electrically cooled [in] large clear jugs with a push lever for fast dispensing”! Which sounds even more expensive than bottled water.

Enter Amy Ellen Schwartz and three others who give us the peer-reviewed study “Effect of a School-Based Water Intervention on Child Body Mass Index and Obesity” in JAMA Pediatrics, in which we learn that, scientifically speaking, “Water is essential for human function”. This is why “Previous studies found providing water to students in schools may be beneficial.” May. Scientists are known for their caution.

What Schwartz et al. did was to look at the age-sex normalized BMIs of about a million New York school kids (the government helpfully tracks this none-of-their-business information). If and on what date each kid’s school got a $1,000 water jet was noted. They also found out how much milk was sold at each school’s cafeteria (chocolate or plain was also noted).

Here comes the science: “We identified a student as being ‘treated’ by a water jet if he or she spent 60 or more cumulative school days in a school with a water jet.”

In plain English, this translates to: “We have no idea how much water any kid drank. But we like to say water jets. Try it. Water jets. It’s fun and expensive! And it’s scientific.”

The science didn’t end there. They also scrutinized “changes in milk purchases between schools that had a water jet and schools that did not have a water jet, before and after introduction of a water jet.”

At this point, Schwartz and pals could have noted the differences in BMIs and milk purchases between water jet and non-water jet kids. But no. Instead, they stuck all the data inside a series of regression models. Because regression models are more scientific than just looking at numbers.

Turns out by “policy design, water jets in New York increased over time during our analysis period, and machines were often placed in schools in waves”. Sounds like somebody’s brother-in-law is in the water jet business, no? Skip it.

The shocking main results. “There was a significant main effect of water jets on zBMI, such that the adoption of water jets was associated with a 0.025 (95% CI, ?0.038 to ?0.011) reduction of zBMI for boys and a 0.022 (95% CI, ?0.035 to ?0.008) reduction for girls (P?<?.01).” Wee p-values!

Did you see that? A whopping 0.025 reduction in age-sex normalized BMI for boys. And a stunning 0.022 cliff dive for girls. Scientifically speaking, these differences fall into the Preposterously Trivial classification, which is one step above What Do I Look Like, An Idiot? level. (The same kind of finding for milk was presented.)

Then again, since these are actually parameter estimates from the series of regression models and not actual reductions, Preposterously Trivial is probably an overstatement. And since nobody has any idea whatsoever how much water any kid drank, even What Do I Look Like, An Idiot? is too high. We’re probably much closer to I Weep For The Future Of Humanity classification.

Let’s see how Schwartz describe their success: “Analyses revealed that zBMI and overweight decreased significantly for boys, and zBMI and overweight also decreased significantly for girls.” Note that, despite appearances, “significantly” has no connection to any English word: it is merely to note the p-values were smaller than the magic number. The authors also note that “some children might not like white milk.”

A “potential mechanism” to explain the dramatic changes was that, possibly, “students consumed fewer [sugar-sweetened beverages] brought from outside school”. But the authors have no idea, because they have zero clue what any kid drank.

What we have here is the epidemiologist fallacy in all its glory, married to misused and misunderstood statistical models. The epidemiologist fallacy is when a scientists says X causes Y but where X was never measured. Here X = water jets, and Y is the stupid small change in BMI, and even that was exaggerated by the statistical model.

Just to show you how harmful this fallacy is, one newspaper said the “study found making water available through self-serve dispensers in school cafeterias results in student weight loss.” Sheesh.

This is an official entrant for 2016’s Bad Science of the Year Award.

Summary Against Modern Thought: God And His Relation To Effects

This may be proved in three ways. The first...
This may be proved in three ways. The first…
See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

This is our last week of throat-clearing and set up. Next week the juicier bits begin. It’s good to go through this to build your own confidence, and for the interesting material about the infinity of potentialities in the second Note.

Chapter 11 That something is said of God in relation to creatures (alternate translation)

[1] Now as power is becoming to God in relation to His effects, and as power conveys the notion of a principle, as we have stated; and since principle denotes relationship to that which proceeds from it, it is evident that something can be said of God relatively, in relation to His effects.

[2] Again. It is inconceivable that one thing be referred to another, unless conversely the latter be referred to it. Now we speak of other things in relation to God; for example as regards their being which they have from God, as already proved, they are dependent upon Him. Therefore conversely we may speak of God in relation to creatures.

[3] Further. Likeness is a kind of relation. Now God, even as other agents, produces something like Himself. Therefore something is said of Him relatively.

[4] Moreover. Knowledge denotes relation to the thing known. Now God has knowledge not only of Himself, but also of other things. Therefore something is said of God in relation to other things.

[5] Again. Mover implies relation to thing moved, and agent to thing done. Now God is an agent, and an unmoved mover, as already proved. Therefore relations are predicated of Him.

[6] Again. First implies some kind of relation, and so does supreme. Now it was proved in the First Book that He is the first being and the supreme good.

[7] It is therefore evident that many things are said of God relatively.

Notes That’s the entire, unexpurgated chapter. It shows how extraordinarily careful St Thomas was at all times, with nothing taken for granted. The whole point here, and for the first three paragraphs of the next Chapter, are to understand what is really part of God, and what is not, and to show that we are able to say something about how things related to God. We creatures are not part of God. The universe, His creation, is not God. And so forth. These points will be clarified in the Chapters to come.

Chapter 12 That relations said of God in reference to creatures are not really in God (alternate translation)

[1] THESE relations however which refer to His effects cannot possibly be in God.

[2] For they cannot be in Him as accidents in a subject, since no accident is in Him, as we proved in the First Book. Neither can they be God’s very substance: because, since relative terms are those which essentially refer somehow to something else, as the Philosopher says (Predict.), it would follow that God’s substance is essentially referred to something else. Now that which is essentially referred to another, depends in some way thereon, since it can neither exist nor be understood without it. Hence it would follow that God’s substance is dependent on something else outside it: and thus it would not be of itself necessary being, as we have proved in the First Book. Therefore suchlike relations are not really in God.

[3] Again. It was proved in the First Book that God is the first measure of all beings. Therefore God is compared to other beings as knowable things to our knowledge: since opinion or speech is true or false according as a thing is or is not, according to the Philosopher (Predic.). Now though a thing is said to be knowable in relation to knowledge, the relation is not really in the knowable, but only in the knowledge: wherefore according to the Philosopher (5 Metaph.), the knowable is so called relatively, not because it is itself related, but because something else is related to it. Therefore the said relations are not really in God.

[4] Further. The aforesaid relations are said of God not only with respect to those things that are actual, but also with respect to those that are in potentiality: because He both has knowledge of them, and in reference to them is called the first being and the sovereign good. But that which is actual has no real relation to that which is not actual but potential: else it would follow that there are actually an infinite number of relations in the same subject, since potentially infinite numbers are greater than the number two which is prior to them all. Now God is not related to actual things otherwise than to potential things, for He is not changed by the fact that He produces certain things. Therefore He is not related to other things by a relation really existing in Him…

Notes This bears repeating: “the relation is not really in the knowable, but only in the knowledge.” The relation is not ontological, but epistemological, which is the point I have been making about (logic and) probability. The relation doesn’t exist, therefore cannot exist “in” or as part of God.

The God is changeless, or that He exists outside time, i.e. is eternal, and that in Him there is no potential we already know. And we know that relations are knowledge. We have also delved into the subject of potentiality and actuality. Potentialities can be infinite, as Aquinas states, and God can obviously know He could have made things other ways. That knowledge is therefore in God. And we can have knowledge of (some of) these, too. That we can is where uncertainty enters the picture; this is the origin or probability. It is only because we can have knowledge of potentialities that we can be uncertain. This, then, is something which separates us from God.

Actualities are harder. Can they too be infinite? Is space, for example, infinitely graduated, i.e. continuous, or is space only made or “more points” potentially? This is too huge a subject for us to answer here. However, we’ll come back to infinity again and again.

The Establishment And The Alt-Right


Since this is the Internet, I should make it plain that discussing a thing does not make you part of the thing.

Strikes me the Establishment’s reaction at the rise of the Alt-Right is like that of an intellectual Stick Boy who has been teasing what he has been taking to be a dim-witted Ruffian, but a Ruffian who was just a little sharper than Stick Boy thought, and whose blood is now up.

Ruffian finally has taken one too many jibes. He stands, his fist clenched, spittle foaming at the edge of his mouth. He’s ready to crush Stick Boy, who finally senses the danger he is in, but whose only recourse is to screech, “You Brute!”

It is not going to end well for Stick Boy.

Take the well known pirate Ace who for years was a loyal ruffian. He thought the good-natured pranks pulled on him by Establishment (GOP branch) stick boys were signals the Establishment liked him. But he wised up. “You know, for years, I felt it was my duty to sell these [Establishment crap] sandwiches to readers for the Greater Good of winning elections.” Now he says, and means it, “the establishment has to be destroyed.”

He’s raised the Jolly Roger:

We will not be ignored, we will not be condescended to, we will no longer accept broken promises and lies as our payment for our service to the GOP.

And if it requires destroying the GOP and electing a Democrat to teach the establishment this lesson, to chastise them and to humble them, then we shall do just that, and do so happily.

You will either come to terms, or you will be destroyed.

Ace was not alone. There were many others, which frightened the Establishment. It knew it had to do something. It looked upon the gathering forces and cast spells on them. “Racist!”, they shouted, “Fascist! Populist!” The stick boys did not, and still do not, understand these words, so powerful in the pass, now have the opposite of their intended effect. Besides, calling somebody a “populist” in a democracy makes as much sense as yelling “Driver!” at a man behind the wheel of a car.

The Establishment believes the ruffians have no idea what they are doing in supporting Trump. This is why they post broadsheets listing Trump’s deficiencies, in hopes of teaching ruffians the truth. But the ruffians already know, or think they do. It’s just that the ruffians hate the Establishment more than what Trump might do. As it is, at this moment anyway, Trump is thrashing the stick boys. Not in a pretty way, of course; but that he is doing it at all is enough for the ruffians, who have been spoiling for a fight and for the chance to act like men in a culture saturated in effeminacy.

What a shock it would be to the ruffians if Trump turned out to be part of the Establishment! This, I think, would be the one jibe too many. Or Trump could turn out just like the Establishment fears, and call the ruffians his own. Or the whole thing could blow over and we continue our picturesque descent into decadence (this is my guess).

On the second possibility, we agree with Nick Land that “If you think people power is basically great, but the Left have just been doing it wrong, the Alt-Right is most probably what you’re looking for.” Land says:

Alt-Right is inclined to anti-capitalism, ethno-socialism, grievance politics, and progressive statism. Its interest in geopolitical fragmentation (or Patchwork production) is somewhere between hopelessly distracted and positively hostile. Beside its — admittedly highly entertaining — potential for collapse catalysis, there’s no reason at all…to have the slightest sympathy for it. Space for tactical cooperation, within the strategic framework of pan-secessionism, certainly exists, but that could equally be said of full-on Maoists with a willingness to break things up.

So you don’t want to join the Establishment but aren’t thrilled with the Alt-Right, what’s the alternative? Theoretically or practically? Well, forget theoretically, as least for today. We’re stuck with what we have. Practically, since it was the Establishment that created the Alt-Right, and nobody sees the Establishment giving up, well, look for more of the same, only more so.

Update: I’m afraid I didn’t make it clear that I am not talking about the election per se, but of our cultural situation in general.

Gallup On Satisfaction With Gay “Rights”, The Remnant, & The Episcopalian Grounding

From Gallup
From Gallup

Galloping to our doom

Surveys of public attitudes in democracies are interesting. When pollsters aren’t lying (more on this another day), polls are crude snapshots of the adult “general public’s” attitude to some question. They are also attempts to ascertain what is best or true, for democracies have the preposterous conceit that “truth” and morality can be decided by vote.

Both aspects play in Gallup’s new poll “on Americans’ satisfaction with acceptance of gays and lesbians“. There’s no plus-or-minus on the chart above, so don’t put too much faith in any exact number. Anyway, any awareness of the state of our culture confirms the picture’s shape.

I’m not entirely satisfied with the wording of the question, because it’s better than a good bet that most of the folks in the 60% would welcome, or at least raise no objection, to “rights” increasing. “Rights” for whom? Well, for those who, at certain points in their lives, confess same-sex attraction. There are no such beings as “gays” or “lesbians”; there are only men and women. So gay “rights” can only mean the “right” to certain unimpeded unnatural sexual-like activities.

Even that’s not quite right. Consider that people could always have slunk off into the dark and done pretty much anything, and few would have cared. It was only when the slinkers emerged from the closet and announced that what they have just done was not immoral nor gross, but “good” and even “healthy.” Gay “rights”, then, are the extent to which buggery etc. is accepted—and mandated to spoken of—as good. And for that proposition, there are only about 10% claiming they disagree (only the Lord knows how many people lie to pollsters, or how many pollsters lie).

That, then, is the real story of this survey. The remnant. Given that, notice something interesting about the graph. The size of the remnant hasn’t changed much since 2001. I’m also considering the plus-and-minus to these numbers, and with that proviso the remnant has varied from 10-20%, and it’s only latterly decreasing, perhaps to a new low. Do you see? It’s not so much that the “Total % satisfied” has increased, because most of that increase came from the “% Dissatisfied, want more.” It’s that the remnant is finally shrinking.

If this reading is right, then in another decade the remnant won’t be more than 1 out of 100. I’m guessing it will be around then that unnatural sex-simulation activities are taught in public schools as a “healthy” alternative. This is already true at the university level, of course, so I mean grade schools. It may at that point become illegal “hate speech” to say (something like) “homosexual activities are dangerous and wrong.” Laws mandating we look the other way on sexual “orientation” will guarantee this. Hatred for the powerless remnant will only increase. Why? Egalitarians despise those who remind them of Reality.

Meanwhile in England…

Lancaster University announced a poll in which a “majority of white British people now identify as having ‘no religion’“. They say of “the adult population as a whole, 46% now identify as having no religion (nones) and 44% with Christianity.” Somewhat amusingly they write, “Only 13% of nones hold anti-religious views in the style of Richard Dawkins.”

It amusing because now that Dawkins is getting what he wanted, i.e. the disappearance of Christianity, he’s finally pegged the consequences. Pace: “Muhammed became the most common name given to baby boys born in London, and the second most common among newborn male babies across the entire UK and Wales.”

The survey author “claims Britain’s Christian leaders have lost touch with congregations on issues including gay marriage and abortion.” This explains the decrease, she thinks; but of course, she has it backward. In there is no sin, there is no reason to attend mass.

They didn’t try taking the smartphones away

The remnant is not entirely powerless now; at least, not in religious circles. Without going into details, the Anglican Church held a confab recently at which they took their Episcopalian branch to the woodshed and grounded them for three years. Why? Because the Episcopalians abandoned Christianity and embraced gmarriage (government-defined marriage).

Did the Episcopalians take their punishment like men? No, sir, they did not. One priest wrote “On Becoming Second Class Anglicans for Treating LGBT People as First Class Christians“, an article in which he speaks of “marriage equality.” And an Archbishop reminded the world that he was black.

The Anglicans, pressured by a still-faithful Africa, and bleeding members as we saw, are hoping the scolding will hold their version of protesting Christianity together. Stay tuned, because given the kicking and screaming from Episcopalians thus far, smart money says a formal split is coming.