Friday, June 24, 2016
Are spuds bad for you?
Medical researchers would love to point the skinger of forn at the humble spud. It would be another arrow in the heart of those despised McDonald's "fries". And the latest study by Borgi et al. did indeed find a slight bad effect from eating them -- but only among women.
Lea Borgi. Isn't she gorgeous? But don't fancy her too much. She is engaged to another woman
I was going to have a shot at the Borgi study but a Kiwi researcher has beaten me too it. David R Thomas, another old timer from a social science background like me, has pointed out that men and women tend to have different diets and the fact that men were immune from the menaces of the good ol' spud should suggest that it was something other than spuds in the female diet that had the bad effect. And he offers a specific suggestion about what the pattern difference might be. And he has a point.
But I have another shot to fire into the unfortunate Dr Borgi. She did an heroic job of adjusting for all sorts of possible confounding factors but she left out the politically incorrect one, one that sabotages a lot of medical research. She failed to look at differences according to social class. And, horrific though it might be for me to mention it, social class does influence diet.
And that matters on this occasion because the 3 samples analysed were of medical personnel. And the females would have been mostly nurses and the males would include a lot of doctors. And, agonising though it must be to hear this, doctors tend to be of higher status than nurses. I'll now take 5 minutes to wash my mouth out.
So the male sample would be of a higher class overall and would eat differently. Upper class people are more careful about their health generally and their diet in particular. So all the unfortunate Dr Borgi has shown is something that we knew already: Upper class people are healthier than lower class people.
David Thomas actually said the same but in a more polite way. He spoke of two dietary patterns which for brevity we might call the careful pattern and the careless pattern. He said the male doctors probably followed the careful pattern. What he didn't mention is that the careful pattern is more upper class while the careless pattern is mostly working class.
Sad when political correctness completely undermines the conclusions of very laborious medical research. NB: For those who did not get it. "skinger of forn" is a Spoonerism -- JR
Multicultural fraudsters in Britain
Two women who posed as sisters after buying false identities to then claim hundreds of thousands of pounds each in benefits have been jailed.
The pair, known by the assumed names of Antoinette and Louise Kaidi, pleaded guilty six days into their trial in March after the jury were 'laughing' at their defence, the court today heard.
Antoinette, of Enfield, London, qualified as a nurse after using her identity to fund her training, while Louise, of East Ham, enrolled in a nursing course at London South Bank University.
They were arrested last year and convicted of a total of 23 counts, dated between 2003 and 2015, including fraud, conspiracy to assist in unlawful immigration and dishonesty in making a false statement or representation with a view to obtaining benefit.
Sentencing them each to 33 months in prison, His Honour Judge John Tanzer told them their crimes were of a serious nature.
He said: 'These are not victimless offences. They are offences the community feels very strongly about.'
He said the convictions were part of a wider probe into other people, adding: 'I was told all of this is part of a very large investigation involving some £4million.'
The Kaidis were convicted of taking thousands of pounds from the NHS in training and bursary costs, as well as from the Department of Work and Pensions in false tax credit and income support payments after assuming so-called 'ghost identities'.
Louise claimed in the region of £270,000 while Antoinette obtained £290,000, which included her earnings while working as a nurse.
Both women claimed to be from Togo but it is believed Antoinette is of mixed Nigerian-Ghanaian heritage, while Louise is Ugandan, although prosecutor Caoimhe Daly admitted the true identities of the women are still unknown.
Judge Tanzer said the women admitted their crimes in the face of a jury who did not appear to believe their stories.
Addressing the women he said: 'Antoinette you were giving evidence with a jury laughing at the attempts by you to say that you were not aware of your real identity.'
Both Antoinette, a mother-of-two, and Louise, a single mother-of-three, cried as they sat in the dock at Croydon Crown Court.
More evidence that some people are born bad
The brains of teenage delinquents are different to those of their better behaved peers, according to new research.
The study suggests that conduct disorder, a problem recognised by psychiatrists, is more than just a description of natural teenage unruliness.
Scientists compared the thickness of different brain regions in groups of young people, some of whom had been diagnosed with conduct disorder.
They found evidence of altered brain structure associated with the condition, which is characterised by persistent behavioural problems including aggression, violence, lying, stealing, and weapon use.
Dr Graeme Fairchild, from the University of Southampton's Department of Psychology, said: 'The differences that we see between healthy teenagers and those with both forms of conduct disorders show that most of the brain is involved, but particularly the frontal and temporal regions of the brain.
'This provides extremely compelling evidence that conduct disorder is a real psychiatric disorder and not, as some experts maintain, just an exaggerated form of teenage rebellion.
'More research is now needed to investigate how to use these results to help these young people clinically and to examine the factors leading to this abnormal pattern of brain development, such as exposure to early adversity.'
The scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to see whether various brain regions were similar or different in terms of thickness.
Teenagers with childhood-onset conduct disorder had brain regions that were strikingly similar compared with those of their peers.
The brain regions of adolescent-onset conduct disorder teenagers, in contrast, displayed fewer similarities to those of 'normal' individuals.
In both cases, the findings are thought to reflect brain development disruption linked to conduct disorder diagnosed at different stages of life.
The researchers first studied 58 male adolescents and young adults with conduct disorder and 25 'typical' individuals aged between 16 and 21.
Their findings were then replicated in 37 individuals with conduct disorder and 32 who did not have the condition, all male and aged between 13 and 18.
Dr Luca Passamonti, a neuroscientist at Cambridge University, said: 'There's evidence already of differences in the brains of individuals with serious behavioural problems, but this is often simplistic and only focused on regions such as the amygdala which we know is important for emotional behaviour.
'But conduct disorder is a complex behavioural disorder so likewise we would expect the changes to be more complex in nature and to potentially involve other brain regions.'
Co-author Professor Ian Goodyer, also from Cambridge University, added: 'Now that we have a way of imaging the whole brain and providing a "map" of conduct disorder, we may in future be able to see whether the changes we have observed in this study are reversible if early interventions or psychological therapies are provided.'
The results are published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Even Sweden is now toughening up on immigrants
Sweden, once one of the most welcoming countries for refugees, on Tuesday introduced tough new restrictions on asylum seekers, including rules that would limit the number of people granted permanent residency and make it more difficult for parents to reunite with their children.
The government said the legislation, proposed by the Social Democrat minority government and enacted by a vote of 240-45, was necessary to prevent the country from becoming overstretched by the surge of migration to Europe that began last year.
The country, which has a population of 9.5 million, took in 160,000 asylum-seekers last year.
The government said that under the new rules, individuals who want to bring over family members, but do not apply to do so within three months of arriving in Sweden, would have to prove they can financially support them; current regulations require sponsors to demonstrate only that they can support themselves. Permanent residency for asylum-seekers under the age of 25 would be restricted to those who have completed high school and can support themselves.
People who are formally granted refugee status would be able to bring over family members from abroad, but the legislation would circumscribe the family members who are eligible.
As elsewhere in Europe, the far right in Sweden has been railing against immigration, a stance that is increasingly resonating with voters. The Sweden Democrats, a far-right anti-immigrant party, won almost 13 percent of the vote in a 2014 general election, and recent polls show it gaining in strength.
Morgan Johansson, Sweden’s justice and migration minister, said in a heated parliamentary debate on the issue Monday that the country’s “system would completely collapse” if 200,000 asylum seekers came to Sweden this year, according to Radio Sweden.
Wealthy countries across Northern Europe are increasingly pushing back against calls to accept more refugees amid fears that it could undermine stretched welfare systems, national integration, and quality of life.
The issue has become particularly acute ahead of Britain’s vote this week on whether to leave the European Union, with those in favor of an exit from the bloc arguing that membership has left the country unable to control its borders and defend itself against an immigrant influx.
The proposed legislation in Sweden quickly came under criticism from human rights groups, which accused the country of passing rules harmful to children.
“Long a leader in promoting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, Sweden is now joining the race to the bottom,” said Rebecca Riddell, Europe and Central Asia fellow at Human Rights Watch. “Sweden should not sacrifice the well-being of vulnerable children in an effort to make the country less attractive for asylum seekers.”
The United Nations said Monday that more people are on the run than ever before in recorded history, buffeted by war and conflict from Africa to the Middle East.
Sweden introduced new identity checks for travelers arriving from Denmark, prompting the Danes, who were concerned about the potential for a bottleneck of migrants seeking to travel through their country, to impose new controls on migrants traveling via its border with Germany.
Denmark also passed a law requiring newly arrived asylum seekers to hand over valuables, including jewelry and gold, to help pay for their stay in the country.
The UN refugee agency has warned that restrictions on residency permits in Sweden could undermine unaccompanied migrant children in the country and that separating families for extended periods could also have a “detrimental effect.”
Resentment toward migrants in Sweden was heightened last summer when a woman and her son were stabbed to death at an Ikea in Vasteras. An Eritrean who had been denied asylum was charged with the crime
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.