1. @San: Who won at this point doesn't matter. Trump's the president. That said, another country influencing our elections is easily far more important than anything the tax committee said in 9 pages. Trump didn't write it, they had him stamp his approval before they released it. Misinformation without a foreign country spreading it is already terrible enough. So yes, we care when people believe anything they read online, we try to show them to be more discerning and to understand that it's not all real. That way we don't get guys in pizza parlors waving guns around looking for pedophiles.

    Keep in mind, About 1 in 3 people still don't believe Russia tried to influence the elections. 1 in 3 uninformed people matter a lot, especially since that means they're the ones most susceptible to the influence. Heck, as of 3 years ago 1 in 4 Americans believed the sun revolved around the Earth.

    Maybe that will be my next topic I pull some facts for here...

    As far as the tax plan goes...

    • Flattening the tax brackets - can't comment yet as they purposely didn't identify the new ones.
    • Raises the tax on the lowest tax bracket - again, without knowing what this bracket is, we can't know what impact will happen. Keep in mind that the lowest 33% of Americans don't make a whole lot, so I'm not sure the raise will help the deficit much at all.
    • Lowers the tax on the highest tax bracket - this will increase our deficit far more than the raising taxes on the lowest bracket will help.
    • Doubles the standard deduction for all people, but removes deductions except charity and mortgage interest - not sure this math works out as a net 0, but without any details who knows.
    • Removes the extra standard deduction for head of household - they're increasing the standard deduction to be higher than this deduction currently is, but since this status is mostly for single parents I'm not really sure why they want to eliminate it.
    • Remove the AMT - the AMT is annoying as shit if you have to calculate it, but it's there to fight tax avoidance of the top tax bracket, so it doesn't surprise me Trump wants to get rid of it.
    • Repeal the estate tax - I'm torn insofar as the estate tax really doesn't make a whole lot of sense (the money is already taxed) and it's easily avoided (trusts). That said, we tax almost any other windfall (e.g. lottery) higher than normal income tax, so an estate tax isn't entirely unjust either.
    Overall I can't imagine this helps our deficit any. The lowering of the top income tax bracket will be much more significant in terms of losses of tax income than any gain, and that's without the factoring in of the estate tax, AMT, and increases in deductions. It will reduce the tax incentives for buying a house though, so I wonder if that market will be impacted at all.

    Of course, until there's some actual details it's all hot air anyways.
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  2. Not sure where this really belongs, but since I referenced it here previously and it impacts political policy/voters I thought I'd throw it here.

    Here's the 2014 study I was referencing before: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/index.cfm/chapter-7/c7h.htm

    That first page is a high overview, I'll be referencing from the actual document here: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/content/chapter-7/chapter-7.pdf

    Keep in mind these are survey responses - the studies themselves cover a large amount of breadth, but it still revolves around people telling the truth. There's no incentive to lie in most cases, but still something to keep in mind. I'll break this up into multiple parts so that it's digestible.

    Interest in science:
    • 5% of people responded "not at all interested" in new medical discoveries. This was the lowest negative response queried - the top two (at around 33%) were 'Space Exploration' and 'International and Foreign Policy Issues.'
    • Americans, in general, are more interested in Science than our European counterparts. We're often just under the highest-scoring European country in any given area.
    • Science and Technology (its own category) coverage accounted for just under 2% of news reports (TV, radio, internet, et al) between 2007 and 2012. Environment accounted for another 1-1.2% depending on the year. Health and Medicine obviously was pretty high in 2008 (just under 9%, thanks Obama) but by 2011 had declined to 3%.
    • There were two items that each stole the vast majority of coverage in their respective categories. "Energy Debate" was around 30% in environment stories, and "Healthcare Reform Debate" was up to 60% of health and medicine stories by 2012. Since the ACA was passed before 2010, I'm guessing most of these stories revolved around repeal attempts.
    • Headlines from nightly news were identified for 2011 and 2012.
      • 2011 had two stories that dominated science and technology topics - the death of Steve Jobs and the discontinuation of the shuttle program. The next several barely received 1/3 of the coverage those two did, and revolved around topics such as cellphone radiation, telephone billing abuses, and hacks. The first positive story, that internet commerce had increased, received under 25% of the coverage of the top stories.
      • 2012 was nearly entirely dominated by one story - Facebook's IPO. At half the coverage of the IPO came the Mars Curiosity rover. Sadness ensues.
    • Online sources are overtaking TV/newspaper as the main provider of science and technology news. Go figure.
    • More interestingly, news consumption mediums between Europeans and Americans are pretty similar, though of course a couple of exceptions exist. Brits love their Teles. Eastern Asian countries tended to be dominated by Television, but South Korea of course had a much larger internet scene (turns out 95% of people get their news from StarCraft. Please don't believe that).
    Other Sources:
    • 60% of Americans say they visited a library in the past year (I don't believe them), but that's still way down from 2001 (75%).
    • Zoo, Aquarium, and Natural History museum attendance is down slightly since 2001, but still over 50%.
    • Americans with more years of "formal education" are more likely to attend these other sources, with the exception of libraries, where all groups had a similar percentage.
    • Over 90% of respondents said libraries were important for communities.
    • Internationally, data was limited. What they had indicated that Americans were more likely to use these sources than Europeans, but just as likely as eastern Asians.
    • Europeans did go to a lot more conferences than Americans, some countries had up to 25% of respondents say they had been to a scientific conference in the past year.
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  3. Part 2:

    Understanding Science
    • Evaluated from a 9 question response. Americans averaged 5.8 correct.
    • Education level mattered - the higher the degree studied, the more questions that people got correct. When broken out by the number of science and math classes that were taken, those who took more science and math classes greatly out-scored those who did not take any.
    • Women tended to out-score men in Biology, whereas men out-scored women in Physical Sciences. Not sure why that's a thing, but there it is.
    Questions themselves:
    • Evolution and Big Bang:
      • When asked a straight science question (T or F - humans developed from an earlier species of animals, the universe began with a big explosion), respondents correctly identified the answer 48% and 42% of the time. That's a coin-flip on a true or false question. Oye.
      • When prefaced with "according to astronomers" or "according to the theory of evolution" the respondents correctly answered 72% and 74% of the time. My off-hand interpretation means that people know what scientists are saying, but aren't listening to them.
      • Those numbers somehow managed to be up 10% since previous surveys. Less than 1/3 of the population knew that evolution was a thing and that the big bang happened.
      • Comparisons to other countries are mixed. In general we rank about at the average of European countries (4 placed higher than we did).
      • There was one question that Americans were particularly bad at, only 43% answered correctly when this particular study was done in 2011. Over 60% of Europeans got it right. The question, drumroll please:
        • "The earliest humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs."
        • (We're doomed.)
    • Reasoning and the Scientific Process
      • Questions revolved around 3 topics - probability, experimental design, and scientific method
      • Probability - the scenario was that 1 in 4 children will have an inherited illness.
        • 82% correctly identified that one child's result was independent of another's.
        • 72% correctly identified that the odds for all the children were even.
        • 65% got both questions correct (this is relatively unchanged since 1999).
      • Experimental Design - the scenario was around designing a new drug for high blood pressure.
        • 34% of Americans were able to correctly answer how to test a new drug and correctly explain why you would possibly give 500 people the drug and use 500 people as a control group.
      • Scientific Method - this question wasn't really masked, it was pretty much how to study something scientifically.
        • The question was counted as correct if you said at least one of three things in the response (testing a theory using a hypothesis, conducting an experiment with a control group, make rigorous and systematic comparisons). If they were looking for those answers with any specificity on the last two, that could help explain the low numbers. I'm not sure I could have hit those last two.
        • Regardless, 20% of respondents got one of those things correct. This seems to be about average over the years.
      • Only 33% of respondents could get the probability questions right and at least one of the other two questions.
      • Believe it or not, Americans actually did pretty well compared to their European counterparts and very well compared to their Chinese counterparts. Japan did really well - around 60% of the population got the experimental design question right. I'm not entirely convinced the format was the same, though.
    • Education
      • Adults were compared to middle schoolers, and on three questions the adults tied 1 and lost 2. I'm pretty sure this is how we got that "Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader" TV show.
      • 12% of all Americans responded correctly to all of the questions.
      • 20% responded incorrectly to all of the questions.
      • No international comparisons
    • Pseudoscience (really though, they only asked about Astrology)
      • 55% said Astrology is not at all scientific. This has remained pretty much constant for over a decade.
      • 32% said "sort of scientific." That's a little ambiguous language, but... hey, it's still wrong.
      • 10% said it was "very scientific."
      • 4% said they didn't know. I appreciate these people a lot. That adds up to 101% thanks to rounding.
      • This was only compared internationally to China, where 80% didn't believe 'fortune telling sticks,' 82% didn't believe face-reading, 87% didn't believe dream interpretation, 92% didn't believe in horoscopes (jeez), and 95% didn't believe in 'computer fortune telling.' The Chinese will lead us against the AI rebellions.
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  4. Part 3:

    Public Perceptions and Attitudes
    • Americans self-rate ourselves as highly knowledgeable in science far lower than any of our international counterparts. We also have more people rate themselves as "not knowledgeable."
    • 7 in 10 Americans see science as beneficial. About 20% said science is slightly more risky than beneficial (or didn't answer), and 7% essentially said that science was dangerous.
    • These numbers are stark across education lines. 55% of non-high school graduates people thought science was beneficial. 89% of people with a bachelor's degree thought science was beneficial (up to 92% with a graduate degree).
    • Economic splits were there too, but given that economic splits and education splits correlate well that's not unexpected.
    • 87% (down slightly) of Americans "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that science and technology will create more opportunities. Given that we're talking about robots replacing our jobs, I don't blame the decline.
    • 42% said science makes our way of life change too fast. They're probably the same people that drive 50 miles per hour in the left lane on the highway (/sarcasm).
    Finally finishing:

    • Internationally - in 2010, 31 countries sampled on whether we are putting too much faith in science and whether science does more harm than good.
      • US: 41% say we put too much faith in science, and not enough in feelings and faith. This put us about the middle of the 31 countries.
      • US: 14% said science does more harm than good.
      • These figures have remained relatively stable since 1979.
    • The US is much lower than Europe on the question "is science the motor of progress," by a large margin - we tied the U.K., who was the lowest in Europe. The Czech Republic and Poland had the highest perception of science relative to the question.
    • This flipped on the question of "we would be better off with more simple lives with less technology." The US along with Germany (a bit better) and Denmark (said fuck you guys, we like our tech).
    • The US also beat the European averages for "science drives out religion" and "science advances our way of life too fast" by a large margin.
    • Asian country surveys had different questions, so it's not a good comparison. That said:
      • 75% of Chinese respondents said science brings more advantages than disadvantages , and 20% said we were too dependent "such that we overlook belief."
    Federal Funding:
    • In 2012, 83% of Americans thought scientific advancement was necessary and should be federally supported, even if it brings no immediate benefits.
      • Since 1985, the answers to this question have varied - 76% was the low in 1992, 86% was the high in 2006.
      • This also varied by education level. 75% of people without a degree (including High School) supported this, 94% of people with graduate degrees supported this.
      • Internationally this mostly aligns with Europe and several Asian countries (China, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan) and Brazil, but again the questions were slightly different so it's not a direct comparison.
    • 38% of Americans thought the government was spending "too little" and 45% "about right." This has trended significantly up from when the question was first asked in the early 80s.
    • 1/3 of Americans support spending more on science / scientific research, over one half of Americans thought we definitely should not cut spending. This seems to be a rephrase of the previous question, and that the results are the same is positive insofar as it means Americans don't change their stance based on the question asked (like they do with Obamacare).
    • That said, Americans have a variety of issues that they say need spending more than science and tech.
      • Education (75%), helping the poor (61%), health (61%), alternative energy (60%) - not sure why that's separate from science though, environmental protection (58%).
      • On the lower end, science (38%), mass transportation (38%), parks / recreation (31%), defense (24%), space (22%) - sadness ensues, foreign assistance (7%).
    Hooo boy this is taking way too long. I'll try to abbreviate more.
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  5. Part 4 (more summarized!):

    Americans don't think much of social sciences. Public perception said that Accounting was more scientific than Marriage Counseling.

    Specific Issues:

    • Mostly stable. Only real changes in the past 20 years are that more Americans see pesticides as dangerous to the environment (up to 51% from 37% in 1993).
    • Just over 1/3 of Americans are "greatly worried" about the environment, which has remained relatively stable.
    • Almost half of Americans think the government is doing too little.
    • 68% of Americans think water pollution is very or extremely dangerous. Air pollution caused by industry was 62%, while pollution from cars was only 42%.
    "Global Warming"
    • Only 2/3s of Americans thought the globe was getting warmer
    • Of those 2/3s, just under half thought it was the fault of humans (we're doomed).
    • Despite that, just over 1/4 Americans think Congress should do something about it - most believe the danger is in the distant future.
    • Only 62% of Americans think there is a scientific consensus on climate change.
    • Americans are among the least likely internationally to be concerned about climate change.
    • America and Europe don't believe a whole lot in humans affecting the climate (under 50%). Developed Asian countries are almost at 75% (!). This will directly impact our economic future - Trump has already ceded the solar industry to China.
    • Only 20% of Americans said "genetically modified food was safe." There has been no science to show that GMOs are unsafe.
    • Only 70% knew that we were already using genetically modified food. 93% said it should be labeled.
    • Willingness to eat genetically modified food was based on the food. 60% said modifying plants and grains was acceptable, whereas it was 35% for fish and 38% for meat.
    • The U.S. is actually on the lower end of the spectrum for people concerned about GMOs.
    Evolution in schools (warning, scary shit ahead)
    • Surveys were evaluated from 1997 to 2005 as part of a 2010 study. Participants were asked about two things - should intelligent design be taught alongside evolution, and should creationism replace evolution.
    • A majority (% not provided) support teaching intelligent design alongside evolution.
    • A significant minority (ranged from 37% to 44%) said creationism should replace evolution entirely.
    • Around half of Americans (47%-54%) are opposed to removing evolution from schools.
    • A small sample size study (926 biology teachers) found that only 28% advocated evolution in their classrooms. 13% said that "creationism or intelligent design" are valid scientific theories.
      • This again was very different among teachers who had a college level course that included evolution versus those who didn't.
      • How the hell does a biology teacher not have a college level biology course.
      • Stressing - small sample size. Results may not be entirely accurate.
    Science, Engineering, and Math education.
    • In a 2013 study, only 11% of Americans think science should be emphasized in schools more than other subjects.
    • This puts science third behind math (30%) and English/Grammar/Writing/Reading (% not provided).
    • Computer Science was last (4%).
    • Half of Americans think that young Americans don't pursue math and science degrees are because "they are too hard." Too boring (20%) was about the same as "not useful for their careers" (22%).
    • The majority of Americans (70%) believe the level of scientific education was inadequate. Dissatisfaction increased with education level, age, science knowledge, and income.
    • Half of Americans think public schools don't put enough emphasis on science and math, almost an equal amount said "it's about right," and 2% said there was too much emphasis.
    • Over 70% of people consistently say that the government spends too little on education since the 1980s, which made it the most consistent and highest issue in regards to government spending.
    I'm skipping a few issues that I'm guessing you guys probably don't really care about. Let me know if you do (nuclear power, animal research, stem cells and human cloning).
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  6. TL;DR:

    Americans perform fairly abysmally in their scientific knowledge and support of science, but usually score between median and better amongst their international peers. Asian countries weren't covered well enough. There were a few issues where Americans got creamed, and those partially reflected the issues that politicians have decided to fight about.

    Most everyone wants more/better science education and funding. Not enough people like space, but that is just me injecting my personal opinion.
    superbob likes this.
  7. Why don't companies want to label foods that are genetically modified for the consumer?
  8. Because some (apparently a lot) of people have a negative connotation towards the words "genetically modified." As soon as those people know a food was genetically modified, in theory they're going to stop buying that food.

    If we got rid of the negative perception of GMOs, it wouldn't matter. For things like trans fats, where they're actually bad for you, labeling helps.

    Despite knowing that we don't have any negative side effects of GMOs, I'm still for labeling them. Regardless of the perception, more information is always good.
  9. That's the whole Goddamn point lol. Food wasn't meant to be genetically modified.
  10. Food has been genetically modified since the beginning of agriculture, it just took a lot longer in the past than it does now.
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  11. What does that even mean?
    Putting aside for the moment the hotly contested issue of an "intelligent designer"( I;e a diety) how do we assign intention to anything in nature? We speak of natures design in proximate terms and metaphor to that of sentient organisms imbued with the faculty of cognition and free agency(Such as humans), but does that mean that nature has a plan for anything that resides within it?

    Did nature intend tree's to be cut down and used as firewood and writing material?
    Did nature intend coal to be mined and ablated from mountains and caves to be used as fuel and power sources?
    Were all animals intended to be eaten or only some?

    Were plants meant to live indefinitely, or die in the ravenous digestive tracks of herbivores and omnivores?

    Better yet, was cheese ever intended to exist?
    Furthermore, would it surprise you still that this great human engineered dairy-based invention is genetically modified on a near universal level? That statistically speaking, if you took a trek down to your local deli and partook in a sampling of one of their many divine selections, you would be ingesting something created and finetuned in a lab? Or that swiss cheese owes it signature porous appearance thanks to bacteria?(And no, contrary to popular urban legend there isn't an industry of overworked dwarves with holepunchers in some remote factory on the outstretches of Wisconsin)

    I'd be willing to bet my Wife's absurdly expensive wedding ring *looks over shoulder*...that the vast majority of the so called "GMO" alarmists have no bloody clue that what they are putting in their mouths has at one time been chemically altered/ modified, for the express purpose or goal to satisfy the palate and the immune system.

    I agree with Xander that people should know what they are eating, but I also hold the dual opinion that there are others who if informed fully....would devolve into raving hypochondriacs intent on forcing everyone to pull their hair out over harmless food additives.
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  12. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/us/politics/republicans-tax-401-k.html

    As part of the overhaul of the tax code that's supposed to cut 1.5 trillion in taxes, Republicans are talking about raising taxes by cutting the amount of tax deferred income you can have by 87%. If you're over 50, the cut is 90% (they're lowering the maximum tax deferred amount to $2,400 whereas today it's $18,000 and $24,000 respectively).

    What the NY times mentions is that they may not be able to do this, as they're trying to pass the new tax code under budget reconciliation rules instead of a new law in order to prevent a filibuster. Reconciliation rules don't allow for the government to take a long-term loss for a short-term gain (the money they would get later, they're instead getting now).

    In an ideal investing scenario where everyone is investing in different IRAs based on their income, this bill disproportionally affects higher-income people. You want to pay taxes when your income is lowest - so the less money you make, the more you want to put it into a Roth IRA where tax is taken out immediately. If you make a significant amount of money, you want to put it in a tax-deferred IRA to pay it once you retire or start working less, as the withdrawals count as regular income. More realistically a lot of lower income people don't know to put their money in a Roth IRA or have to put it in a 401k to get company matching.

    Republicans are touting the tax overhaul as a $1.5 trillion tax cut, but given that we are in massive debt and have a large yearly deficit I'm a little afraid of how that's going to end. They're going to have to cut spending somewhere, and it's probably not going to be military or healthcare - which means it's coming from the discretionary budget which is already stretched incredibly thin.
  13. Well I hope the release of the JFK classified files are interesting.

    Why the fuck wouldn't they want all the files to be released, don't give me that shit about it being sensitive. Like we don't know what those times were like back then.
  14. I care.
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  15. Sure thing. Any one in particular, or all of them?
  16. All. Always open to possibly learning something new so why limit that possibility.
  17. Do Nuculer (Nuclear) power, I always enjoy reading about everyone else's take on the future of energy that has been completely squandered by the civilian market and ignorance.
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  18. I'll get to those later today - The Hill has done another good investigative piece.


    The article takes a slightly unfortunate turn when it takes two things that happened in similar timeframes and associates them together without any evidence (Clintons making money, Russia buying things that would require government sign-off), but the article itself is full of good information and even included the source documents at the bottom. It's a lengthy article, but before we all go screaming "CLINTON RUSSIA ASKDJASKDJA" this is at the bottom:

    Looks more like the FBI took the playbook from the NSA and just didn't tell anyone - like anyone who could stop the deal or even some of their bosses.
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  19. From the science discussion before (https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/content/chapter-7/chapter-7.pdf):

    Other Energy Sources
    • When asked about what is more important, protecting the environment or protecting the energy supply of oil, gas and coal:
      • Protecting the environment was trending up (52% in 2001, 57% in 2007) but dropped substantially (41% in 2011, 44% in 2012)
      • This trend also reflects the answer to "should we conserve more of our energy supplies or produce more." Conserve was trending up, then dropped 15% between 2007 and 2011.
    • Support of research in wind, solar, and hydrogen energy was around 82% in the 2006-2009 span. It was down to 68% in 2011-2012 (Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in 2011).
    • When asked if the government should "put more emphasis" on various technologies, here were the breakdowns in 2013:
      • Solar (76%), Wind (71%), Natural Gas (65%), Oil (46%), Nuclear (37%), Coal (31%)
    Nuclear Power
    • Studies done in 2012 (Deepwater Horizon incident was 2010, Fukushima was 2011 for reference)
    • One study 57% of Americans were strongly or somewhat in favor of using nuclear power, other study only reached 44%
      • Phrasing of the question was likely the culprit - the first study asked about nuclear power "as one of the ways," the second study asked about "promoting nuclear power."
      • The first study identifies this response as down 5% from just before the Fukushima incident, but up from a 46% favorable (48% unfavorable) result in 2001.
    • No Asian studies done to compare, but Europeans in general weren't big on nuclear power. A general European study showed that 39% thought nuclear power would improve their lives, the same thought it would make their lives worse, 10% said it wouldn't make a difference, and the remainder said they just don't care.
    • A UK specific study found that nuclear power held a favorability rating of about 33%.
    • In 2010: Americans, despite 44% of them thinking nuclear power was "extremely dangerous" (not defined in this study), rate well internationally. The countries that beat them were ones you'd expect - Japan and South Korea from Asia (China wasn't polled? Ok...), Sweden, Denmark, Belgium. We tied Finland.
      • The UK was surprisingly near the top - for some reason it doesn't think it's extremely dangerous, it just doesn't think it'll improve things? Weirdos.
      • Shout out to the Czech Republic - least likely to think it's extremely dangers (just under 25%).
      • If you combine the responses for "extremely dangerous" and "somewhat dangerous" the US adds up to about 78%... which still looks to be a standard deviation above the rest of the countries (32 total).
      • Sweden wins the combination - just over 50% think it's dangerous. Only other country under 60% was Denmark.
      • Austria was the most paranoid - 85% extremely dangers, 93% summed with "somewhat."
        • The next 4 most distrusting are... Chile, Croatia, Turkey(?), and Switzerland(???)
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