January 22, 2021

Do the math.

Subheadline in the NYT: "Each additional daily cup of coffee was associated with a 1 percent decrease in the risk of prostate cancer." 

Top-rated comment: "Based on the NYT's excellent reporting, I will immediately begin drinking 100 cups per day and reduce my prostate cancer risk to 0%. What could go wrong?" 

The subheadline is ridiculous for reasons expressed in the comment, but the commenter is doing the math wrong. After each additional cup of coffee — in the mad logic of the subheadline — you have 99% of what you had before. Drink a million cups of coffee, and you still won't get to zero, just 99% of what you had before that last cup.

It's the Zeno's paradox of prostate cancer.

112 comments:

Nonapod said...

The subheadline seems ambiguously worded. I don't know if qualifies as a "crash blossom" or not.

Ken B said...

The problem isn’t math, it’s reading. It is perfectly possible for the sub headline to be accurate *over the observed range* without implying the extrapolation to 100 cups. And associated does not mean caused.

Kai Akker said...

Now isn't this where some boor would say "Um Althouse"?

Not me though! Just not sure the Zeno aspect governs this one. The quantity "risk" might be arithmetic, not algebraic. But I yield to the great mathists here.

Lucid-Ideas said...

1 year from now in the NYT:

"Each additional daily cup of coffee was associated with a 1 percent increase in the risk of prostate cancer."

That is literally every piece of clickbait health news in history.

madAsHell said...

How does someone measure a 1% increase?

This is the Audacity of Cognitive Impairment!!

At one time, I believed our hostess would never fall to such silliness....

Ken B said...

Kai's point is a good one. It’s again a matter of language. If I have seven lottery tickets, each with a chance of 1 in a 100 of winning, then each ticket I burn reduces my chances of winning by 1%. You could also say burning the first one reduces my chances (not chance) by one seventh, but you cannot say that without know a priori how many tickets I hold.

daskol said...

It's pocket protectors all the way down.

Gabriel said...

My favorite variety is the "two furnaces" joke:

Salesman: This furnace is so efficient it will cut your fuel bill in half!
Customer: Give me two, and then my fuel bill will be zero!

Joe Smith said...

Well, I drink as much coffee as anyone I know and I didn't escape.

I love the commenters math, btw.

In printing, there is a fixed cost, and after that, the more you print, the lower the unit cost becomes.

I would always ask my print rep, 'so if I print enough of these brochures, they're eventually free'?

A take on 'sure we're losing money on each individual sale, but we'll make it up in volume.'

mandrewa said...

Without reading the paper, I would guess, as Ken B did, that the data in the paper only applied to a small range in the number of cups of coffee consumed, like say from one to six cups per day. And if the statement is actually true, ie. each additional cup of coffee per day reduces your odds of prostate cancer by 1%, then one hundred cups of coffee per day would drop the odds of prostate cancer to 37% of normal.

But a sense of how the universe works would suggest that there would be some seriously harmful other effects if one were to drink one hundred cups of coffee per day.

Bob Boyd said...

Drinking 100 cups of coffee a day significantly increases your chances of getting kicked in nuts.

Lucien said...

Does anyone really know what the risk is -- or are they just looking at the observed incidence and drawing an inference?

Gabriel said...

@Ken B:If I have seven lottery tickets, each with a chance of 1 in a 100 of winning, then each ticket I burn reduces my chances of winning by 1%. You could also say burning the first one reduces my chances (not chance) by one seventh, but you cannot say that without know a priori how many tickets I hold.

The chances of one ticket out of seven winning is 1-(0.99)^7 = 6.8%. (Each ticket has a 99% chance of losing; if all of them lose you didn't win, so you can subtract from 100% to get he chance of at least one of them winning.)

If you burn one, it's now 1-(0.99)^6 = 5.9%.

It does go to zero as you burn more tickets but not by 1/7th each time.

*This assumes that more than one ticket can win, that there's not only 1 winner out of 100 tickets, but that 1% of some large number of tickets are winners.

mccullough said...

No matter how many places you take pi the circle closes.

Bob Boyd said...

100 coffee enemas per day is said to be the ticket for prostate support by those in the know.

narciso said...

https://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2021/01/21/drew-holden-rounds-up-the-usual-suspects-who-passed-along-cnns-story-about-there-being-no-vaccination-plan/

Owen said...

Hey, kids! Can you spell "asymptote"?

rhhardin said...

They're linearizing, and saying that more coffee doesn't saturate the effect but enhances it. Not exactly an error.

Percentages always work with strange math because they're limited to lie between 0 and 100, but if a big change isn't contemplated, you can ignore that.

Wince said...

Drink a million cups of coffee, and you still won't get to zero, just 99% of what you had before that last cup.

Sometimes it's better to make an asymptote of yourself, rather than just an ass.

Gabriel said...

@mandrewa:But a sense of how the universe works would suggest that there would be some seriously harmful other effects if one were to drink one hundred cups of coffee per day.

Undoubtedly nothing is harm-free.

The risk of cancer due to smoking one cigarette is about equal to the risk of cancer due to consuming one jar of peanut butter. A lifetime pack-a-day smoker has something like a 20% of lung cancer. But a twenty-jar-a-day peanut butter eater is going to die of morbid obesity long before they ever get a chance to develop cancer.

Ken B said...

Gabriel misses the point entirely.

BidenFamilyTaxPayerFundedCrackPipe said...

I have 2 large cups of coffee every morning.
then I quit for the day and switch to water.
Coffee is very dehydrating.

Ken B said...

I remember when Trump said something dropped by a third. Some twat did the math, found out it dropped by 32.9% or some such, and screamed Trump was lying. That's not a math issue, it’s a language issue.

Inga said...

“Well, I drink as much coffee as anyone I know and I didn't escape.”

So sorry to hear about your prostate cancer, Joe.

rcocean said...

one problem with with medical stories in the DNC-press is they never give you the right numbers. For example, what is the overall risk of getting Prostate Cancer?

Lets say your lifetime risk is .02. But you drink lots of coffee. But that doesn't mean your risk is now .01, instead its now (99% of .02). The medical establishment does this all the time with cigareettes. They make it very hard to find out what the average lifetime risk of getting lung cancer is. Instead they'll keep giving you numbers about how smoking increases your chance of getting lung cancer by X% to scare people.

rcocean said...

Coffee is not dehydrating, that's a myth.

Nancy said...

My risk is zero regardless if how much coffee I drink.

rcocean said...

Alcohol IS dehydrating though.

Fernandinande said...

"California judge rules that coffee requires cancer warning"

Judges - is there anything they can do?

rcocean said...

That's true. You need a prostate to get prostate cancer. If you don't have the organ you can't get the cancer. That's why Biden will never get brain cancer.

rcocean said...

Barbara Rothenstein - hardcore liberal democrat - just ruled against Parler. Said Amazon can police speech of anyone they do business with. Amazon Uber alles. As long as its run by a liberal demcorat.

dbp said...

So what Althouse is saying is that no matter how much coffee you drink, cancer still has a chance. Never give up hope, cancer.

rcocean said...

I love coffee and will keep on drinking it, till its proven to be unsafe. Sometimes, you need to take risks. Big Risks. Like drinking coffee.

DavidUW said...

Rcocean--

Yep, there's never a distinction between absolute and relative risk reduction. See it all the time with the rona too. Hence my question always being: You have a 1.15% lifetime risk of dying in a car accident, and if you're my age, a 0.1% (max) chance of 'Rona death. Why are you still driving?

Roughly 14% of active smokers get lung cancer.

Your lifetime risk of prostate cancer is roughly 13%.

Joe Smith said...

"My favorite variety is the "two furnaces" joke:"

Some old comedian had a similar bit about bombs on airplanes.

Joe Smith said...

"So sorry to hear about your prostate cancer, Joe."

Thank you, Inga...the problem is solved and I have decades ahead of me : )

Zack Davis said...

A percent decrease and a percentage point decrease are not the same.

If the risk of prostate is 50%, then a 1 percent decrease takes the risk to 49.5%. A 1 percentage point decrease takes the risk down to 49%.

The commenter used a percentage point change while the subtitle uses a percent change. It's a common mistake.

rcocean said...

Mitch McConnell and Pelosi only drink purified water that's been taste tested by a flunky. No risks for them. That's why we have 25,000 NG in DC to protect them.

iowan2 said...

Unfortunately those of us that have had the occasion to use an oncologist, know cancer causes and probabilities are pretty much undefined. Except for Skin and lung cancer, its all a crap shoot.

Joe Smith said...

From cursory 'research,' it seems that between 50 and 100 cups a day would be fatal.

So don't try it : )

Nonapod said...

I'm pretty sure you can calculate it with the compound interest formula.

For example, if you start with a 5% chance of prostate cancer, 1 cup would get you down to 4.95% (1 percent of 5 is 4.95).

One hundred cups would be 5 * (1 + -1/100)^100 = 1.85%, unless I'm missing something which is likely.

Oh Yea said...

One of the most maddening things was local news anchors reading COVID statistics with disgust in their voice as if they had any idea what they mean and then later in the newscast state that they were not good with math almost as if it was a badge of honor.

Yancey Ward said...

Lucid Ideas for the win at 10:07 a.m.

rcocean said...

13% get prostate cancer. So if I reduce my risk by 1% by not drinking coffee...no calculator...so i'm just eyeballing it...would reduce my risk to 12.87%. Not much of a reduction.

Yancey Ward said...

Asymptotic Transmission.

rcocean said...

"Roughly 14% of active smokers get lung cancer."

I assume that means people who are still smoking as opposed to ex-smokers. IRC, almost nobody under 45 get lung cancer, and your risk of getting it is directly related (assuming no other factors like around asbestos, etc.) to how much you smoke. There's a chart -measured in pack years -somewhere that shows how the risk goes up exponentially as you get older.

Not sure about Cigar smoking. I think that was Rush Limbaugh's mistake. He should have stopped the Cigar smoking at 60 or 65. But he kept on puffing away.

TheOne Who Is Not Obeyed said...

I was told there would be no math, and that I could simply use my judgement to define truth.

Yancey Ward said...

"Nancy said...

My risk is zero regardless if how much coffee I drink"


Now, now- you are othering trans males. This is hate speech, Nancy.

rcocean said...

As someone said up thread "Percentage points" vs. "Percentage" - very important distinction lost on most journalists. They also don't understand the difference between median and average.

The Drill SGT said...

J School doesn't cover asymptotes

Yancey Ward said...

I once drank 5 cups of coffee one Sunday morning. Never again. Had it been 10, I probably would not be alive today.

One cup in the morning, and if I feel like, another, smaller one in the late afternoon.

Yancey Ward said...

"J School doesn't cover asymptotes"

It doesn't cover any math more complicated than counting to 10.

Bob Boyd said...

Scott Adams is good for your prostate.

Gabriel said...

@Yancey Ward:It doesn't cover any math more complicated than counting to 10.

Now that's not fair. I've seen lots of listicles that have more than 10 items.

Bob said...

Another factor is when you start drinking the daily hundred cups of coffee. If you start at age 70, you may already have prostate cancer, so the point is moot. Best to start drinking the coffee the day you're born, just to be on the safe side.

Ken B said...

Gabriel
Have you realized yet your math is wrong too?
Here is the correction. The lottery will pull one number from the bowl. If anyone has the winner he gets the prize. If no one has the winning ticket no one wins. I own 7 numbers. My chances are 7%. I burn a ticket. There are sill 100 numbers in the lottery urn, so my chances are now 6%. If the number I burned is drawn, no one wins the prize.
But the real error is thinking that English words must refer to decimals at arbitrary precision.

Gabriel said...

@Ken B:Have you realized yet your math is wrong too?

It isn't. My assumptions were different from yours, though. My math is corect for my assumptions. You never said there were only 100 tickets and 1 can win; you only said that just now. Which is fine, but that is not analogous to prostate cancer, because there's not a fixed pool of cancer "winners".

Bob Smith said...

But ... But .... You said there wouldn’t be any math.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

rcocean said...

Mitch McConnell and Pelosi only drink purified water that's been taste tested by a flunky. No risks for them. That's why we have 25,000 NG in DC to protect them.

I'm interested in whether or not there are any plans to send the NG home now that the inauguration is over. DeSantis and Abbot have said they are recalling their troops after the parking garage debacle, it will be interesting if Chuckles and Nancypants try to keep the NG there "permanently".

Ann Althouse said...

Balzac and Voltaire each drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day.

Earnest Prole said...

A little bird mentioned correlation is not causation.

Jokah Macpherson said...

37% of baseline; surprised I’m the first commenter to actually say this explicitly.

Yancey Ward said...

Gabriel's math is correct- you failed to describe your scenario in your first comment, and he filled it in with one that accurately simulates the subject under discussion- the reduction of cancer risk. Trying to fix your mistake in the second comment again demonstrates what kind of person you really are- it was a test of character and you failed.

Even worse, Gabriel had the foresight to actually detail all his assumptions, and yet you claimed his math was wrong- almost like you didn't read to the end of the comment.

Nonapod said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...
Balzac and Voltaire each drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day.


Probably not the most healthy thing in the world to do. I guess it takes something like 10 grams of pure caffine to kill a normal person, and each cup of coffee has something like 100-200 millgrams worth. Generally your body will metabolize it faster than you can drink it anyway, so you'd have to slam like 50 - 100 cups of coffee within a few minutes to risk killing yourslef.

Joe Smith said...

"Balzac and Voltaire each drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day."

What about Chaucer and Rabelais? : )

I'm guessing it wasn't espresso.

Apparently two teaspoons of pure caffeine can kill you.

Make sure it's sugar you're spooning in...

Whiskeybum said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...
Balzac and Voltaire each drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day.


Oh yeah? And where are they both today, huh?

Bob Boyd said...

Balzac and Voltaire each drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day.

They also both wore cups.

Francisco D said...

Balzac and Voltaire each drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day.

That had to be some weak ass coffee, like the coffee flavored water my Midwest Scandinavian relatives drink.

I grind my own beans and use a drip coffee maker. I dare anyone to drink 10 cups, much less 40-50.

DavidUW said...

I assume that means people who are still smoking as opposed to ex-smokers. IRC, almost nobody under 45 get lung cancer, and your risk of getting it is directly related (assuming no other factors like around asbestos, etc.) to how much you smoke. There's a chart -measured in pack years -somewhere that shows how the risk goes up exponentially as you get older.

Not sure about Cigar smoking. I think that was Rush Limbaugh's mistake. He should have stopped the Cigar smoking at 60 or 65. But he kept on puffing away.
>>>
Yes, active smokers. assuming the average 1-2 packs/day for 15 years minimum.

Recent quitters cut the chance down to about 7% if I remember right.

I don't think there's good work on cigars. Usually because cigar smokers often also smoke cigarettes or have in the past.


daskol said...

Balzac and Voltaire each drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day.

Not a cup, a demitasse.

Bob Boyd said...

Quitting smoking is like quitting sin. Timing is everything.

LYNNDH said...

If I had only know this 20 yrs ago I would not have had to have Cancer treatment for my Prostate Cancer that I had 5 yrs ago. Damn!

Joe Smith said...

"I don't think there's good work on cigars. Usually because cigar smokers often also smoke cigarettes or have in the past."

Cigar smokers do not inhale, which is in their favor.

Unfortunately 'Cigar smoking causes cancer of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, and lung. It may also cause cancer of the pancreas.'

Pick your poison.

Nonapod said...

Cigar smokers do not inhale, which is in their favor.

Well, they're not supposed to inhale anyway.

stlcdr said...

dbp said...
So what Althouse is saying is that no matter how much coffee you drink, cancer still has a chance. Never give up hope, cancer.

1/22/21, 10:47 AM


Indeed. In a man's lifetime, the chance of getting cancer appears to be about 50% (1 in 2 men will get cancer at some point in their life).

Skippy Tisdale said...

Should we be concerned about Ann and Meade?

Tests reveal elevated PFAS levels in Madison lakes

https://www.startribune.com/tests-reveal-elevated-pfas-levels-in-madison-lakes/600013373/

Skippy Tisdale said...

Should we be concerned about Ann and Meade?

Tests reveal elevated PFAS levels in Madison lakes

https://www.startribune.com/tests-reveal-elevated-pfas-levels-in-madison-lakes/600013373/

Todd said...

Ken B said...

I remember when Trump said something dropped by a third. Some twat did the math, found out it dropped by 32.9% or some such, and screamed Trump was lying. That's not a math issue, it’s a language issue.

1/22/21, 10:41 AM


Actually sounds more like a "prick" issue...

rehajm said...

I joined late and was going to be very disappointed in you people if nobody said asymptote...

stlcdr said...

'cup' as in 8 fluid ounces? What's the strength?

Just like the measure of alcohol by glasses of wine, or, bottles of beer - you can drink one beer at 11% alcohol, but is that what one would consider one bottle of beer?

Fernandinande said...

Balzac's “The Pleasure and Pains of Coffee,”
"Finally, I have discovered a horrible, rather brutal method that I recommend only to men of excessive vigor, men with thick black hair and skin covered with liver spots, men with big square hands and legs shaped like bowling pins. It is a question of using finely pulverized, dense coffee, cold and anhydrous, consumed on an empty stomach. This coffee falls into your stomach, a sack whose velvety interior is lined with tapestries of suckers and papillae. The coffee finds nothing else in the sack, and so it attacks these delicate and voluptuous linings; it acts like a food and demands digestive juices; it wrings and twists the stomach for these juices, appealing as a pythoness appeals to her god; it brutalizes these beautiful stomach linings as a wagon master abuses ponies; the plexus becomes inflamed; sparks shoot all the way up to the brain."

...linked from here, where he says there's no good source for the 40-50 cups of coffee/day meme and points out that, anyway, 50 of those cups would be "12 to 13 small American cups of coffee", although very strong.

Todd said...

rcocean said...

I love coffee and will keep on drinking it, till its proven to be unsafe. Sometimes, you need to take risks. Big Risks. Like drinking coffee.

1/22/21, 10:48 AM


I actually did not start to drink coffee until I turned 50. By then I had read just too many medical articles, studies, reviews of studies, and mega-studies all concluding that over-all coffee is a net positive for health. It seems to reduce all incidents of cancers and other ills and has health positive affects. I can personally attest to the positive health affects as it turns my wife from a deranged killer of all things living into a sweet loving, lovely lady and it can do that with one cup in the morning! So DRINK UP!

gspencer said...

Eat well.

Stay fit.

Die anyway.

gadfly said...

"Each additional daily cup of coffee was associated with a 1 percent decrease in the risk of prostate cancer."

"I will immediately begin drinking 100 cups per day and reduce my prostate cancer risk to 0%. What could go wrong?"

"After each additional cup of coffee — in [this] mad logic . . . you have 99% of what you had before. Drink a million cups of coffee, and you still won't get to zero . . . .

It's the Zeno's paradox of prostate cancer."

Zeno's many attempts with paradoxes largely addressed the concept that "motion is nothing but an illusion."

But a philosophical concept [refered to as "language-game] developed by Ludwig Wittgenstein . . . argued that a word or even a sentence has meaning only as a result of the "rule" of the "game" being played. Depending on the context, for example, the utterance "Water!" could be an order, the answer to a question, or some other form of communication. The meaning of the word depends on the language-game within which it is being used.

Wittgenstein rejected the idea that language is somehow separate and corresponding to reality, and he argued that concepts do not need clarity for meaning.


In the case of coffee reducing cancer risk, mathematic calculations are not pertinent to the message.

Todd said...

rcocean said...

As someone said up thread "Percentage points" vs. "Percentage" - very important distinction lost on most journalists. They also don't understand the difference between median and average.

1/22/21, 11:05 AM


What journalists don't understand would fill, well VOLUMES.

Todd said...

And like most politicians, they seem to almost revel in their ignorance.

rcocean said...

"Usually because cigar smokers often also smoke cigarettes or have in the past."

Yep. That was Limbaugh. Rush said he quit cigarettes in the 80s. which would've made him 30 something. I can remember his talking Cigars and making the cover of "Cigar" magazine in the 1990s. So he's been puffing on various things all his life. Never made much sense to me. "Hey, I know, lets put this thing on fire, and breathe in the smoke". But i have nothing against any who wishes to take the risk.

rcocean said...

"I can personally attest to the positive health affects as it turns my wife from a deranged killer of all things living into a sweet loving, lovely lady and it can do that with one cup in the morning! So DRINK UP!"

I used to laugh at my Mother, who'd get headaches if she didn't have her morning cup of coffee. But I got hooked on the Demon Coffee at work, and have never looked back. strangely I don't get headaches if I don't imbibe in the AM, but I do feel sleepy and the increase in energy AFTER i have my first sip is noticeable.

gilbar said...

now do,
"one cent Sales tax increase"

Caligula said...

"Based on the NYT's excellent reporting, I will immediately begin drinking 100 cups per day and reduce my prostate cancer risk to 0%. What could go wrong?"
... The subheadline is ridiculous for reasons expressed in the comment,"

I disagree. This is handled in the same way as a double discount. If you get both 20% off and then another 10% off you don't pay 70% of the non-discounted price because the additonal 10% is taken off the 80% that's left after the first discount has been taken, so you'd pay $72.

Similarly, it is the remaining risk that decreases by 1%. This is an exponential function with a negative exponent and (as with radioactive decay) your remaining risk will have a half-life- of about 69 days. Although it seems unlikely that your risk would continue to decrease indefinately, even if it did your risk would always be greater than zero.

As for Zeno, a little bit of calculus will fix his paradox up just fine, as it has no problem dealing with infinite series that nonetheless converge to a finite value. Unfortunately there was no calculus in Zeno's day, so we are condemned forever to contemplate his "paradox" (that really isn't).

It's certainly true that NYT reporters (like practically all journalists) tend to be innumerate. For example, I recall a NYT article on global warming that insisted the temperature someplace had increased by 7%, because the temp in degrees C was 7% higher than it used to be. Yet for this particular example they could have produced an even larger percent increase if they'd just thought to use degrees-F instead of degrees-C. Which is to say, if you want to claim "percent increase" then you must use a scale that starts at (absolute) zero.

But in this case I do not see a mathematical problem. Although it seems improbable that this exponential decrease would continue indefinitely rather than bottom-out at some lower level. If so, the value of that lower level relative to the risk for non-coffee-drinkers would be of more interest than the initial percent decrease.

Francisco D said...

Rush said he quit cigarettes in the 80s. which would've made him 30 something. I can remember his talking Cigars and making the cover of "Cigar" magazine in the 1990s. So he's been puffing on various things all his life. Never made much sense to me.

I quit smoking cigarettes in 1983 and briefly took up cigars. Unless you can afford Cubans, you might just as well roll up a ten dollar bill and smoke it. The other problem is that you really can't smoke cigars indoors. The smell is awful.

Maybe that is why the lovely Marta divorced Rush.

tim maguire said...

Seems like everybody here's made an assumption that is not supported by the text. You're adding the word "remaining" to the claim:

"Each additional daily cup of coffee was associated with a 1 percent decrease in the remaining risk of prostate cancer."

Under the original wording, the commenter is right. If each cup of coffee reduces the risk by 1%, then 100 cups of coffee does indeed reduce the risk by 100%. It doesn't say anything about 1% of the risk remaining after the previous cup of coffee.

Howard said...

If you drink 2-cups of Drano every day, you won't get prostrate cancer ever.

Gabriel said...

@tim maguireUnder the original wording, the commenter is right.

The original wording is innumerate. That's the point. The people who carried out the study did not find that cancer risk is zero after 100 cups of coffer with a linear decrease per cup. The journalist who summarized the story did not understand and used words that implied so.

Michael said...

Ken B. If you burn the winning ticket you have zero chance of winning and Dan do childish math until your tits fall off on the remains “ odds”.

Michael said...

Zeno’s paradox is the best of all paradoxes.

Gabriel said...

@Michael:Zeno’s paradox is the best of all paradoxes.

I nominate this one.

Achilles had overtaken the Tortoise, and had seated himself comfortably on its
back.

“So you’ve got to the end of our race-course?” said the Tortoise. “Even though it
does consist of an infinite series of distances? I thought some wiseacre or other had
proved that the thing couldn’t be done?”

“It can be done,” said Achilles. “It has been done! Solvitur ambulando. You see
the distances were constantly diminishing; and so—”

“But if they had been constantly increasing?” the Tortoise interrupted “How then?”
“Then I shouldn’t be here,” Achilles modestly replied; “and you would have got
several times round the world, by this time!”

“You flatter me—flatten, I mean” said the Tortoise; “for you are a heavy weight,
and no mistake! Well now, would you like to hear of a race-course, that most people
fancy they can get to the end of in two or three steps, while it really consists of an
infinite number of distances, each one longer than the previous one?”

“Very much indeed!” said the Grecian warrior, as he drew from his helmet (few
Grecian warriors possessed pockets in those days) an enormous note-book and a
pencil. “Proceed! And speak slowly, please! Shorthand isn’t invented yet...”

Paul Snively said...

Dr. Althouse: It's the Zeno's paradox of prostate cancer.

If it takes infinite time to get prostate cancer, I'm OK with that.

Paul Snively said...

Gabriel: I nominate this one.

A classic from Christ Church, Oxford mathematics don Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Take "Charles Lutwidge," reverse them to get "Lutwidge Charles," translate to the original Latin as "Ludovicus Carolus," and re-anglicize to get "Lewis Carroll."

Kai Akker said...

---Trying to fix your mistake in the second comment again demonstrates what kind of person you really are- it was a test of character and you failed. (Yancey Ward)

Really? Who made clarifying a comment a test of character? You, Ward? Your comment reveals your character. But you are so sure you are superior to everyone that you will never get its implication.

jaydub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jaydub said...

Reminds me of the time a scientist and an engineer were called before a beautiful nude woman, standing 25 feet away. The beautiful woman said "the first to me gets to freely partake of my charms so long as you only come halfway at a time." The scientist stood still while the engineer immediately set off, going half way each time. The scientist couldn't resist laughing out loud at the dumb engineer because he new he could never actually reach the woman. The engineer, in turn, laughed at the scientist because the engineer knew that although he couldn't reach her, he could get close enough for all practical purposes.

That is the primary difference between an engineer and a scientist.

Gabriel said...

@jaydub:That is the primary difference between an engineer and a scientist.

In the minds of engineers maybe...

Francisco D said...

Has anyone mentioned the positive effects of caffeine on Alzheimers?

In addition to helping your prostate, you can remember how to get to the urinal.

Does Joe drink coffee?

Hercules, not that one though said...

I think rich people bitterly cling to this life. They want it to go on and on. Can't blame them. Can't blame you.

Fortunately for me, I drink a pot of coffee everyday, and smoke 2 pks of cigarettes. I don't let anyone shove a tube up my butt, because my butt wasn't designed for that.

Rich people worship Doctors, it seems.

All of the increase of life expectancy has come from sanitation and food inspections.

I know this about rich people:

You fear this life.

If you are a woman, you will slice your healthy breasts off because some dipshit DR tells you are at risk. If you are man, you will have some dipshit DR shove a tube up your butt.

What do you fear? What haven't you done in this life, that you've put off?

We're here for a short time. We all die. Are you content with what you have made of it?

Howard said...

They have poop in a box now, Hercules. You do have to pack your own fudge.

Howard said...

The middle class deplorables on Instapundit eat up that Aubrey De Grey live forever horseshit. Faster, Please they all say.

Hercules, not that one though said...

Howard. I have no idea what 'poop in a box' is. I understand that Medicals get alot of information from poop, and your comment is clever, I suppose. However...I think you misread the economic classes. It seems to me, as a lower class deplorable, that the upper middle class deplorables warm to Aubrey de Grey. I don't blame them.

In this life, in America...there is so much. It's not even about being 'free from want'. It's...so much.

Sometimes I think about it. I have hot/cold water, 24hrs a day in 2 rooms of my house. Heat in the winter. A roof that doesn't leak. More food than I could ever eat.

How many people in this world can even imagine that?

But...there's so much more for the wanting, if you want to put in the time. What is more valuable? The want? or the Time?

There's so much to want, and to envy others that already have what you want.

stlcdr said...

Gabriel said...
@jaydub:That is the primary difference between an engineer and a scientist.

In the minds of engineers maybe...

1/22/21, 4:32 PM


Scientists continue to repeat why something can’t be done, while engineers go ahead and actually do it.

Maybe this is why scientists continue to decry anecdotal information, because it proves (sic) them wrong?

Gabriel said...

@stlcdr:Scientists continue to repeat why something can’t be done, while engineers go ahead and actually do it.

I don't think you have any experience of science or scientists beyond stereotypes. Scientists continually discover that new things can be done, and eventually engineers are able to do something with those discoveries.

The vast majority of engineers are not innovating, but sticking to the tried and true. When they don't do that it frequently ends up on "Engineering Disasters".

I don't believe you can come up with single example after 1900 when the scientific community said something couldn't be done and then an engineer did it.

dgstock said...

Coffee drinking mathematicians don’t seem to know their limits.

DavidUW said...

Not to jump in on the poop in a box conversation, Hercules, but he was likely referring to Cologuard.

It's a pretty good Dx for whether or not you have colon cancer. So, no probing, unless of course it's positive. If you're saying you're just never going to have a medical intervention, then, moot point. But it's a useful alternative to a first look with a scope.

And in case you think it doesn't get you time, well, my grandfather who smoked more than you do, never ate a vegetable in his life, drank like a fish and never exercised got colon cancer, a little snip taken out, no after effects and live another solid 20+ years until finally getting lung cancer and dying at 86.

But it's your life.