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A better way of signing up for studies of your genes

30.04.2012. In an age where people promiscuously post personal data on the web and regularly click “I agree” to reams of legalese they have never read, news of yet another electronic consent form might seem like a big yawn. But for the future of genomics-related research the Portable Legal Consent, to be announced shortly by Sage Bionetworks, a non-profit research organisation based in Seattle, is anything but mundane. Indeed, by reversing the normal way consent to use personal data is acquired from patients in clinical trials, it could spell a new relationship between scientists and the human subjects of their research, with potential benefits that extend well beyond genomics, reports The Economist:

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The heart of Portable Legal Consent is the notion that anyone who signs up for a clinical trial, or simply has his genome read in order to anticipate the risk of disease, should easily be able to share his genomic and health data not just with that research group or company, but with all scientists who are prepared in turn to accept some sensible rules about how they may use the data. The main one of these is that the results of investigations which include such “open source” data must, themselves, be freely and publicly available. In much the same vein as the open-source-software movement, the purpose of this is to increase the long-term value of the data, by allowing them to be reused in ways that may not even have been conceived of at the time they were collected.

That approach contrasts with today’s system of secretive data silos for particular studies of specific diseases. Patients sometimes discover that they have even signed away their rights to see their own data.

That may serve the narrow interests of a research group or drug company intent on keeping competitors at bay. But the potential of genomic data to provide further insights, perhaps in completely novel contexts, is huge—especially when correlated with a person’s medical record. Also, teasing out correlations between particular genotypes and diseases in a statistically meaningful way requires large sets of data; the larger the set, the more believable the correlations. Portable Legal Consent brings the promise of very large data sets indeed.

Even for academia and industry, these benefits should eventually outweigh the short-term drawbacks of sharing. Indeed, according to John Wilbanks, the creator of Portable Legal Consent, representatives of several drug companies have expressed enthusiasm about Sage Bionetworks’ approach. And appealing features, such as so-called syndicating technology, which automatically informs both researchers and volunteers about new data relevant to a specific drug or disease, should reduce the resistance of individual researchers to the loss of control of what they used to think of as their own data.

Of course, sharing in this open-ended way carries risks. The data involved are “de-identified”—meaning they cannot immediately be traced to a specific individual. But as Mr Wilbanks notes, this is not a foolproof guarantee of anonymity.

Read the entire article in The Economist.


The Breivik trial begins

18.04.2012. Excerpts from an article by Fjordman about the Breivik trial:

The trial against the confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has started in Oslo and will last until June 22, with a verdict expected at some point in July.

Professor Ole Gjems-Onstad is concerned that the mass murderer, who craves personal attention above else, has become a money machine and formed a symbiosis of sorts with newspapers, lawyers, publishing houses and others who make good money from his atrocities while turning him into the mega-celebrity he always wanted to be, instead of ridiculing him as the pathetic creature he is. He thinks the extensive list of ideological witnesses should have been cut, and that "The attempt (Norwegian link) to turn evil into politics is a diversion."

Hans Rustad of Document.no (Norwegian link) was present in court as a journalist, along with his friend Christian Skaug. On the first day of the trial, he noted that Breivik seemed unmoved when his murders were mentioned. He clearly enjoys the spotlight, but otherwise seems strangely detached and cut off from reality, leaving "an impression of charade" (Norwegian link). Rustad figured that his defense lawyers would have a hard time convincing the court that their client is perfectly sane, and did not quite seem convinced of this themselves. With his strange and enigmatic smile, like an evil version of Mona Lisa, Breivik left the impression of being a loose cannon on deck.

Continue reading at EuropeNews.


Fired by National Review

10.04.2012. Longtime contributing editor John Derbyshire was recently fired from National Review, the reason being that NR could not accept that he wrote the Takimag article The Talk: Nonblack Version, which containes, among other things, the following offensive material (emphasis and links in original):

(7) Of most importance to your personal safety are the very different means for antisocial behavior, which you will see reflected in, for instance, school disciplinary measures, political corruption, and criminal convictions.

(8) These differences are magnified by the hostility many blacks feel toward whites. Thus, while black-on-black behavior is more antisocial in the average than is white-on-white behavior, average black-on-white behavior is a degree more antisocial yet.

(9) A small cohort of blacks—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of blacks—around half—will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of racial solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that whites have it coming.

(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.

(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.

(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”

(12) There is a magnifying effect here, too, caused by affirmative action. In a pure meritocracy there would be very low proportions of blacks in cognitively demanding jobs. Because of affirmative action, the proportions are higher. In government work, they are very high. Thus, in those encounters with strangers that involve cognitive engagement, ceteris paribus the black stranger will be less intelligent than the white. In such encounters, therefore—for example, at a government office—you will, on average, be dealt with more competently by a white than by a black. If that hostility-based magnifying effect (paragraph 8) is also in play, you will be dealt with more politely, too. “The DMV lady“ is a statistical truth, not a myth.

(13) In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized blacks. (I’ll use IWSB as an ad hoc abbreviation.) You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSBs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.

(14) Be aware, however, that there is an issue of supply and demand here. Demand comes from organizations and businesses keen to display racial propriety by employing IWSBs, especially in positions at the interface with the general public—corporate sales reps, TV news presenters, press officers for government agencies, etc.—with corresponding depletion in less visible positions. There is also strong private demand from middle- and upper-class whites for personal bonds with IWSBs, for reasons given in the previous paragraph and also (next paragraph) as status markers.

(15) Unfortunately the demand is greater than the supply, so IWSBs are something of a luxury good, like antique furniture or corporate jets: boasted of by upper-class whites and wealthy organizations, coveted by the less prosperous. To be an IWSB in present-day US society is a height of felicity rarely before attained by any group of human beings in history. Try to curb your envy: it will be taken as prejudice (see paragraph 13).

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

You don’t have to follow my version of the talk point for point; but if you are white or Asian and have kids, you owe it to them to give them some version of the talk. It will save them a lot of time and trouble spent figuring things out for themselves. It may save their lives.

Read the entire article in Taki's Magazine.

For some very different perspectives on this episode, here are four articles; two dismissive, two supportive:

Liddell's concluding paragraphs are worth quoting:

The second thing that will happen is that White people, even those who have nothing but goodwill for Blacks, will notice that the longer they honestly and frankly discuss race the more they will end up sounding exactly like "White supremacists" and so-called hard-line "racists." This is not because they have "inherent racism" as leftists like to imagine, it is simply because the facts of the debate will push them in that direction.

Derbyshire's article is a perfect example of both of these effects. Far from being hateful or racist, the tone of the article was one of stoical regret that things had to be the way they are, but that, because of undeniable facts and dangers, certain precautions were advisable to safeguard one's children. Writing with his usual honesty and thoroughness, it wasn't long before he was unwittingly saying things that couldn't help but be offensive to Blacks, while nevertheless being completely true.

The direction that the debate goes was revealed on the on-line comment boards at Taki's and several other publications that got involved in the fight. Where these were't censored, the debates all served to highlight the great racial asymmetry between Blacks and Whites. After Black crime rates were mentioned, the debate tended to move on to why Blacks commit so much more crime than Whites, leading to issues of poverty, low IQs, and the failure of Blacks to progress since "racism" ended. This then led to the corruption, chaos, and devastation seen in Black-run areas, with countless examples, usually mentioning Detroit and occasionally Haiti, as well as African countries. Even slavery is a can of worms for Blacks as most of the actual enslaving, like most Black crime, was Black-on-Black, with White and Jewish slave traders providing the unfortunates with an escape from probable certain death and possible cannibalism.

Against a plethora of brutal facts and hard experience all that the defenders/ apologists of Blacks have is the "Face-Saving Racial Myth," creaking, leaking, ragged, and ridiculous from constant overuse since the early 1960s, and a flood of Nazi, klan, hillbilly, and duelling banjo jibes to cover up the vacuum where their arguments and evidence should be.

In short, the more that race is honestly discussed the more insulting it inevitably becomes for Blacks, and the more Whites will find themselves slipping unwittingly into "supremacist" language and attitudes, simply because of the underlying racial asymmetry. There is almost a surreal quality to any attempt to discuss such topics as the 20-point IQ gap, Black-on-White crime (with stats and examples), racial profiling, and the history of slavery in a calm, polite, and respectful way.

Personally I have no wish to bang on about White "supremacy," and I'm sure that John Derbyshire didn't either, but when you have a frank, open, and honest discussion about race in America this is one of the inevitable by-products, and this is exactly why the National Review has stopped reviewing the nation, and fired the last writer on its books capable of living up to the magazine's title.




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HonestThinking is dedicated and committed to the art of thinking honestly. Yet honest thinking is not the same as true thinking, for it is possible to think honestly, but be mistaken. For the same reason, honest thinking is not identical with objective thinking either. Honest thinking is striving to get things right. This involves being truthful about whatever one publishes, but just as importantly, it involves an uncompromising dedication never to suppress relevant data, even when data collides with dearly held prejudices. Such an approach may sometimes cause hurtful revisions in one’s belief system. That’s what HonestThinking is all about! Read the entire manifesto.

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The current European immigration and integration policy is profoundly disrespectful of both Muslims and Islam, because it is built on the tacit assumption that the Muslims will become like us. One claims to have respect for Islam and for Muslims, but one also expects Muslims to give up their orthodox faith when they come here. At the same time one is assuming that Islam will be reformed and modernized as soon as the Muslims become integrated and understand and appreciate how superior our Western culture is compared to their own. This is cultural shauvinism and arrogance indeed! The unspoken premise for this scenario is that Western socities are superior to Islam. Read more.




Human rights and democracy are under pressure. One threat comes from the Western world, in the form of lack of or dishonest thinking. There exists a peculiar Western "tolerance" which is so "tolerant" that it even tolerates totalitarian or anti-democratic ideologies. A tacit assumption underlying such an attitude is that all cultures, world views, and religions are really equally good. As a consequence of this assumption one is cut off from the possibility of critically examining the above mentioned ideologies. Read more.