Misunderstandings About Science Because Of Different Meanings For Words By Scientists and Non-Scientists

Some climate change denialism is due misinformation on the subject spread by the petroleum industry in a campaign which is remarkably like the older campaign by the tobacco industry to deny that tobacco is harmful to health. Others deny climate change because acknowledging a problem which requires government coordination to solve is not allowed in their political worldview. Some are misled by misunderstandings about the predictions made by climate science, such as having increased snow because a warmer atmosphere holds more water. Some are confused by the difference in the ways certain words are used in science as opposed to the general public. (The different use of the word theory is also significant regarding the misinformation spread by creationists.) The table above shows some examples of how words are used in science as opposed to the way the words are used by non-scientists. (From “Communicating the Science of Climate Change,” by Richard C. J. Somerville and Susan Joy Hassol, from the October 2011 issue of Physics Today, page 48.)

From the Doctor Who Wrap Party: The Ballad of Russell and Julie

Two videos from the wrap party following the final episode of Doctor Who of the David Tennant/Russel T. Davies era emerged on YouTube yesterday. I previously posted one video with the full cast and crew here. The second video above,“The Ballad of Russell and Julie,” features David Tennant, Catherine Tate and John Barrowman in a musical act to thank Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner for their excellent work on the series.

Catherine Tate will also be reprising her role from the series finale of The Office later this season.

Conservatives Never Let Their Ignorance About Climate Change And Science Get In The Way Of Their Attacks

Anyone who knows anything about global warming knows that the predictions include increased moisture in the atmosphere, with increased snowfall. Of course the anti-science right continues to base their ignorant views on climate change based upon the logic that, “it is cold outside now, therefore global warming is a hoax.” Instapundit has an example of the type of scientific ignorance common on the right with their post today asking: IS AL GORE IN TOWN? New Jersey Declares Snow Emergency.

Increased changes in the climate, including both an overall warming trend and increased snowfall in the fall and winter, is exactly what was predicted, and exactly what is happening.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Interview with Karen Gillan; Torchwood: Once Upon A Time; Fringe


The above video was recently posted featuring the cast and crew of Doctor Who from a video played at the wrap party at the end of the David Tennant era.

Above is the audio of an interview with Karen Gillan from Graham Norton’s Radio 2 show. Here’s some highlights:

Karen Gillan has said she will welcome the next Doctor Who companion “with open arms” when her time is up on the show.

Speaking on Graham Norton’s Radio 2 show yesterday, she said: “I know the time is going to come when Rory and Amy have to leave. It’s inevitable and that will make me really, really sad. But that’s the nature of the show and what’s so good about it. What keeps it exciting is the fact that it’s reinvented all the time with new people. I think that’s a really great part of the show, so I will welcome the new companion with open arms.

“I don’t know what type of companion [the Doctor] would have next.”

Gillan also said her future was still “up in the air,” adding “I know that I’m going to be coming back, but I’m not sure when.”

Mark Sheppard hints that Canton Delaware might return to Doctor Who:

Speaking in an interview with Stuff, Sheppard reflected on his involvement on Series 6 and teased “To emerge that Canton is in fact one of the friends that the Doctor deemed should be present at his death eludes to perhaps some further involvement…”

An interview with the cast of Torchwood: Miracle Day from London Comic Con/Memorabilia MCM Expo in the video above.

Kristen Bauer, who plays Pam on True Blood, will be playing Malificent on Once Upon A Time. A couple questions from a recent interview:

What can you tell us about Maleficent’s relationship with Lana Parrilla’s Evil Queen?
The most interesting thing about their relationship is that the writers decided to make them frenemies. It’s just a minefield of evil goodness. It was me, Lana Parrilla and a green screen and we just had so much fun. Two chicks who are loving playing bitches, who liked each other and went, let’s just play chess. The great thing about playing with another person who is a good player is that you don’t always have to play the obvious and hopefully, what we did is put in different colors that show a history. These two chicks have known each other a long time and they’ve been coveting each other, helping each other and probably backstabbing each other quite often. We tried to get all that in there and we’ll see on Sunday if we succeeded.

How would you compare Maleficent to your other current role, that of Pam on TRUE BLOOD?
I’m not exactly sure yet. But so far there are a couple of difference in how I played it. Pam is very sarcastic and what you see is what you get. Pam to me is one of the only people who always tells the truth at this point, doesn’t suffer fools and doesn’t worry about being liked at all. When we get into the fairytale world with Maleficent it feels like we could have a bit more game playing and a bit more things are not as they appear.

More on the back story and sneak peaks about Once Upon A Time can be found here.

Fringe was preempted by some baseball game on Friday. They commented on this in the video above.

And, finally, here is a Happy Halloween card for our readers:

Picture of the Day: Picking My Favorite Republican

Update To The “About Liberal Values” Page

I have rewritten a portion of the About page of the blog (and am likely to make further refinements after posting this). Here is the current page:

Liberal Values stresses support for individual liberties, a free market economy which is controlled neither by the state or by a small oligarchy, fiscal responsibility,  a rational defense policy, separation of church and state, and restoration of the limitations on government power which have been eroded in recent years.

Liberal Values stresses the origins of liberalism in stressing liberty, as well as the ideas of the enlightenment in supporting science and reason along with a secular society where everyone is free to practice or not practice the religion of their choice. While everyone has the right to turn to religious views for guidance in their individual lives,  religious views are personal and should never be the sole justification for government policy.

Liberal views on freedom, as well as an appreciation for science, grew out of the enlightenment. Attacks on science and reason represent one of the major problems of the day, primarily from the religious right but sometimes from portions of the left. This includes denial of evolution as a fundamental principle of modern biology and denial of the scientific consensus on climate change. Conservatives typically promote their views, which fail to work in the real world, based upon misinformation. Just as many modern conservatives promote an alternative reality with regards to science, Liberal Values also looks at how they promote an alternative reality with regards to history (such as denying the support for separation of church and state by the founding fathers), economics, and current events.

On economic matters, I support capitalism, which is why I oppose Republican economic policies. The classical liberals were educated, intelligent individuals who would have not been blind to the problems we fact today. Not even Adam Smith would have supported an economic system which is rigged by the government to support the interests of 1% of the country over the other 99%. Transfer of wealth to the top one percent weakens the middle class and has led to economic stagnation. Markets are creations of humans and require a certain amount of regulation to function. The role of regulation is to ensure fair economic transactions, in contrast to conservative policies which allow the fox to guard the hen house. Regulation does not mean replacing the decisions of a business owner with the judgement of a government bureaucrat as conservatives claim. There are certainly many bad regulations, and these should be repealed regardless of which political party is responsible. As someone who has owned a business for over twenty-five years, I have not seen any evidence that Republicans are any less guilty than Democrats in writing bad regulations. However I have found that business in general, including the stock market, has done far better under Democrats than Republicans assuming you are looking at the interests of Main Street as opposed to Wall Street. While the market can solve many problems, there are other problems, ranging from nuclear deterrence to financing of health care, which the market is not capable of handling.

Politically I am an independent. None of the political parties truly represent my views. However we do have a two party system in which one party has been taken over by extremists who promote policies have been disastrous to the country. Therefore in recent years I have voted for Democrats who support policies which are far better for the country. Despite all the rhetoric, it has been Republicans who have been fiscally irresponsible and are primarily responsible for running up the deficit. It has been Republicans, not Democrats, who have been  responsible for bigger government where it really matters–promoting government policies which infringe upon the rights and private lives of individuals. It has been Republicans who have ignored the infrastructure and made irresponsible foreign policy moves which have eroded the power off the United States both economically and militarily. The Republican Party has fallen under the control of extremists who deny modern science and oppose the important American tradition of separation of church and state. A strong two party system would be valuable in providing an additional check on the power of the majority, but this will only come about when the Republicans break free of their control by the religious right and neoconservatives.

The is further discussion of liberal values in many posts on this blog, such as here and here.

Wikipedia on Liberalism:

Liberalism is an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value. Liberalism has its roots in the Western Enlightenment, but the term now encompasses a diversity of political thought.

Broadly speaking, contemporary liberalism emphasizes individual rights. It seeks a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on power, especially of government and religion, the rule of law, free public education, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy that supports relatively free private enterprise, and a transparent system of government in which the rights of all citizens are protected. In modern society, liberals favor a liberal democracy with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law and an equal opportunity to succeed. . .

Liberalism rejected many foundational assumptions which dominated most earlier theories of government, such as the Divine Right of Kings, hereditary status, and established religion. Fundamental human rights that all liberals support include the right to life, liberty, and property. Liberalism has its roots in the Western Enlightenment, but the term now encompasses a diversity of political thought, with adherents spanning a large part of the political spectrum.

Sports News

St. Louis wins World Series because Texas failed to execute. How ironic. I never thought I’d write a sentence which includes “Texas failed to execute.”

Friday Cat (And Rapture) Picture

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American Medical Practices Have Substantial Costs Dealing With Insurance Companies Compared To Canadian Practices

A report in Health Affairs shows how the high cost of dealing with American insurance companies and other third party payers greatly increases the overhead costs of American physicians compared to doctors in Ontario. Following is the abstract:

Physician practices, especially the small practices with just one or two physicians that are common in the United States, incur substantial costs in time and labor interacting with multiple insurance plans about claims, coverage, and billing for patient care and prescription drugs. We surveyed physicians and administrators in the province of Ontario, Canada, about time spent interacting with payers and compared the results with a national companion survey in the United States. We estimated physician practices in Ontario spent $22,205 per physician per year interacting with Canada’s single-payer agency—just 27 percent of the $82,975 per physician per year spent in the United States. US nursing staff, including medical assistants, spent 20.6 hours per physician per week interacting with health plans—nearly ten times that of their Ontario counterparts. If US physicians had administrative costs similar to those of Ontario physicians, the total savings would be approximately $27.6 billion per year. The results support the opinion shared by many US health care leaders interviewed for this study that interactions between physician practices and health plans could be performed much more efficiently.

Conservatives often use the cost of malpractice insurance to explain the higher health care costs in this country, but the cost of malpractice insurance is t rival compared to the cost of health care billing. Comparisons of physician reimbursement in this country to that in other countries must need to take into the account the need for American physicians to have at least one full time employee, and often more to handle tasks such as obtaining HMO authorizations. In an American medical practice the biller is often the highest paid employee, greatly adding to overhead costs. While large practices might gain from economies of scale, they also have a larger number of  insurance claims to deal with which  requires multiple employees. The addition of drug coverage for Medicare patients which is provided by multiple companies with different formularies also adds tremendously to office overhead due to time spent obtaining authorization for prescriptions.

AMA Report Shows Continued Lack Of Competition In Insurance Market

A report released by the American Medical Association shows, as also has been demonstrated in the past, that there is a lack of competition in health insurance in four out of five markets. The report “is intended to help regulators, lawmakers, researchers and policymakers identify markets where mergers among health insurers may cause competitive harm to patients, physicians and employers.” Among their findings:

  • A significant absence of health insurer competition exists in 83 percent of metropolitan markets studied by the AMA. These markets rated “highly concentrated,” based on the newly revised Horizontal Merger Guidelines issued last year by the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission*.
  • In about half of metropolitan markets, at least one health insurer had a commercial market share of 50 percent or more.
  • In 24 of the 48 states reported in the new AMA study, the two largest health insurers had a combined commercial market share of 70 percent or more.
  • The 10 states with the least competitive commercial health insurance markets, are: 1. Alabama, 2. Alaska, 3. Delaware, 4. Michigan, 5. Hawaii, 6. District of Columbia, 7. Nebraska, 8. North Carolina, 9. Indiana and 10. Maine.