Science and Superstition

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Science and Superstition

Postby Thad » Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:37 am

So Bill Nye recently agreed to a debate with Creation Museum President Ken Ham.

There are a couple of schools of thought on this.

One is that guys like Nye shouldn't debate guys like Ham, because simply by dignifying people like that with a response, you're acting as if the two schools of thought are on equal footing.

But I think I get where Nye was coming from.

Because a shitload of people watched this thing, and are still watching this thing.

And Ham's not going to convince a single person that the Earth is 6000 years old who didn't already believe it.

But Nye might manage to cause a few people who DO believe it to doubt it for a minute.

I'm not saying it'll be very many. But if Ham's score is zero and Nye's score is nonzero, then Nye got what he wanted.

(Which isn't to say Ham didn't get what he wanted. He got publicity, and that means more money.)

I think Bill Nye was quite deliberate in his choice to agree to a ridiculous debate with a ridiculous person on his ridiculous home turf. I think he's doing what he's always done -- trying to explain science in very simple terms, to children.

Because I think they're, as always, the people he's trying to reach.

You gotta figure the Young Earth Creationists tuning into this have pretty ossified beliefs and aren't likely to change them. But if they have their kids sit down and watch it with them? Their kids might come away with something a little bit different.

Nye did a pretty good job of hammering three major flaws in Young Earth Creationism:

1. It relies on the premise that God changed the laws of physics following the Great Flood.*
2. It is not predictive. Actual science doesn't just try to explain what happened in the past, it accurately predicts what's going to happen in the future.
3. Even assuming you accept #1, the variation among humans and the variation among animal species do not support the premise that all modern humans are descended from 4 couples and all animals are descended from 7000 types. Even Ham admits this outright and doesn't even bother with more than a half-assed "we don't know how God did it" explanation. Which is really something considering how much he's bent over backwards to come up with convoluted explanations for everything from dinosaurs to the speed of light.

Ultimately, I quite like how Mark Evanier summed it up:

I've read that in the last section, when the two men were responding to questions from the audience, one was "What would change your mind?" Mr. Ham answered, "Nothing." Mr. Nye said, "Evidence." That's pretty much the whole discussion right there.

* I do admit to loving this as a narrative device. Tolkien uses it in The Silmarillion -- after Sauron convinces the Men of Numenor to challenge the Valar, the Valar make the Earth round so that Men can no longer reach the Undying Lands by sailing west.

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Re: Science and Superstition

Postby Mongrel » Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:05 pm

I dunno if this is really the right thread for Hobby Lobby stuff, so go ahead and move/split this if you want:

ewie wrote:These are from a different forum and pretty handy Hobby Lobby info

McAlister wrote:I think it would be beneficial for folks debating this to know how PBMs ( pharmaceutical benefits managers ) work. I worked for a PBM for three years. I'm not intentionally making any arguments here. Just effort posting some knowledge. Take it or leave it.

Edit ( effort posting on a phone. Apologies for typos ).

PBMs are organizations that allow members to purchase Rx drugs at steep discounts. Their clients are insurance companies or employers like hobby lobby - not individual people. Hobby lobby wasn't one of ours but if they are not using a PBM they are morons of the first water. Yes, they are a very large company. But my first assignment on my first month was to import half a million lives from horizon New Jersey. Kaiser had over 30 million lives on record though not all were active. Our volumes vastly outstripped hobby lobby and thus the rates we negotiated with various pharma companies could be from 40% to 90% off depending.

Pbm's are finances in two ways. Firstly by an up front annual cost per life. Ours was $10 a year per life with volume discounts for folks like kaiser who brought many lives. Secondly they can dip into the spread. If I negotiate a 53% discount for orthotricyclyn and give you a 52% discount I can pocket the 1%.

So volume is everything. The more patients the more drug claims the greater the discounts we can negotiate the more attractive a PBM we are and the more profit from spread. We want to cover *everything* and we want every drug the patient buys to be on the drug plan so that next year when we negotiate discounts we can maintain or increase our discount. We don't care if its necessary or elective. We don't care how much of what's left over the insurer pays.

Speaking of which. A claim breaks down into three important numbers.

1 patient out of pocket ( poop ): the amount left after the discount is applied.

2 plan pay (pp): how much of that the insurer pays.

3 true out of pocket ( troop ): the remainder after discount and plan pay that the patient actually pays.

So after heart surgery a $1000 drug may be $450 after discount and the pp may be 85% of poop making the troop $67.50.

Or after a bout of impotence a guys Viagra might have a 60% discount and the pp is 0% so the patient pays 40%.

And this is why Viagra is covered. It isn't about the insurer. The insurer, be it kaiser or hobby lobby, is a third party here. Plan pay was ***** $0 ******. The patient has paid their $10 a year to access our discounts and -by god- they get our discounts. We want them to use our discounts.. Remember. Spread and volume. If they buy their boner pills off plan we don't get spread or volume from the sale.

Which is why it pisses us off royally when an insurer -always some Podunk self insuring company- calls up and demands we deny drug claims for specific drugs to their employees with the threat that if we don't they'll drop us as a PBM and find a more accommodating competitor to screw over their employees with. And yes calling this a claim is dumb because that puts people in the mind of insurance and makes you think that denying it saves money when what we actually are is a SAMs club and denying claims costs us money. But that's the terminology used in the business so bleh. Crippling our plans for their employees doesn't save them a red cent. It's still $10 per year per life. Just those lives get less for their $10 than everyone else gets. And our administrative overhead is increased because we can't just pass on our discounts to everyone but must instead keep lists of people to screw over.

These employers are not content to simply set their pp to $0 like they do for other electives like rogaine etc. They insist on destroying the discounts their employees paid for and are entitled to.

Now some more detail on discounts. We didn't negotiate on a drug by drug basis. That would take FOREVER. There isn't enough time in the year. We negotiated with each pharmaceutical company individually and the topics are all brand drugs, all generic drugs, and a few individual drugs that are special/new. So when determining the discount on generics the relevant data point is our total purchase the prior year of every generic that company sells. Doesn't matter what they do. Your grandma's heart medicine and my niece's birth control may both be on the same list. Which means that if my niece isn't allowed to purchase on plan then her purchase doesn't contribute to our volumes which means we can't get as good a discount on your grandma's heart medicine. Forcing people off plan thus hurts everyone else by increasing their costs. Maintenance meds like birth control are more likely to matter than rare one offs since they have high volume/margin and can contribute enough to matter.

Still with me? Whew. The issue that the ACA raised is that it requires *cost effective preventatives* to be covered with $0 troop. This means the pp has to be everything left over after the PBM's discount. But hobby lobby isn't simply contesting the pp/troop split. They are trying to take away the bulk purchasing discount too. They are inserting themselves between the patient and the PBM and demanding their employees be charged market rates instead of member rates.

McAlister wrote:
Vitalsigns wrote: Holy shit that's worse than I imagined. I mean, I guess I'm not surprised since the fundies are right this moment suing because they don't even want to sign a paper that a woman can use to go get treatment from someone else but goddamn.

Goddamnit. So if I understand you right, employers like Hobby Lobby could just refuse to pay any portion of the discounted rate and pay $0 for birth control that way, but instead they spitefully demand you deny the claim and force the worker to forgo the discount her premiums entitle her to and pay market rates instead? Holy shit. Thanks for posting.

Close ...

The mandate requires their pp be high enough to reduce the troop to zero. But they ( hobby lobby ) aren't asking to just pass on their PBM discount without contributing any plan pay. They are asking that claims for things they don't like be denied. That these things not be covered at all.

The PBM model is why stupid things like rogaine etc are "covered" even by crappy plans. The coverage is just access to the negotiated discount. So when I got elective LASIK surgery my super expensive eye drops were only $120 instead of around $300 because of my insurer's PBM discount. The savings wasn't coming out of the premiums or costing the insurer anything.

If my employer believed glasses were God's Will and insisted that LASIK was defying god and demands that the PBM reject claims for those drops - would not have saved my insurer any money cause that $180 wasn't actually "paid" by the insurer. Them putting that on my statement is a fib to make them look like they are delivering value. If my drops were really covered and not just discounted the pp would have been 80% of the 120 and I would have paid $24.

So the most hobby lobby could reasonably demand is to "cover" BC with copayment instead of with no copayment because the plan pay is the only part they actually pay. If they were demanding that then they would be more logically consistent. They are demanding a lot more than that. And since the discounts are so huge in pharma the part they have no right to take away is generally larger than their contribution.

Basically they are like a pizza delivery man who thinks keeping kosher means picking the pepperoni you paid the pizza shop for off your pizza. They are an intermediary between the PBM and the patient and they are abusing this position to deny the patient something they paid for. But they are hiding this by rolling the PBM discount and the plan pay into the idea of "coverage" such that they are trying to take away both when - if their arguments weren't theocratic shit - the most they would have grounds to take away is the plan pay. Not the discount.

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Re: Science and Superstition

Postby Thad » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:37 pm

Raw Story wrote:“I’m shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life,” Ham wrote in a Sunday column on his Answers in Genesis website.

Ham argued that “secularists are desperate to find life in outer space” as a part of their “rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution.”


“You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation,” he explained. “Jesus did not become the ‘GodKlingon’ or the ‘GodMartian’! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the ‘Godman’ as our Savior.”

Oh Ken Ham, please keep saying things. You are absolutely the best creationist spokesman an atheist could possibly hope for.

Have I linked ​Confessions Of A Former Young Earth Creationist? I thought I had but I can't find it offhand.


We understand the theory of evolution to be a series of conclusions drawn from over a century of research, predictions, and discoveries. This theory allows us to understand the mechanisms in biology and make further predictions about the sort of evidence we will uncover in the future. Its predictive power is vital to success in real-life applications like medicine, genetic engineering, and agriculture.

However, creationists don't see it the same way. Creationists artificially classify medicine, genetic research, and agriculture as "operational science," and believe that those disciplines function in a different way than research in evolutionary biology. They understand the theory of evolution, along with mainstream geology and a variety of other disciplines, as a philosophical construct created for the express purpose of explaining life on Earth apart from divine intervention. Thus, they approach the concept of evolution from a defensive position; they believe it represents an attack on all religious faith.

This defensive posture is reflected in nearly all creationist literature, even in the less overt varieties such as intelligent-design creationism. It dictates responses. When creationists see a particular argument or explanation about evolution, their initial reaction is to ask, "How does this attack the truth of God as Creator? What philosophical presuppositions are dictating beliefs here? How can I challenge those underlying assumptions and thus demonstrate the truth?" Recognizing this basis for creationist arguments is a helpful tool for understanding why such otherwise baffling arguments are proposed.

In short, Ken Ham and guys like him legitimately believe that scientists are motivated by a desire to trick people into thinking there's no God. Because they're angry at God or rebelling against God or some damn thing. Like, they don't get that people might study outer space or dinosaurs or evolution or geology just because those things are AWESOME.

Maybe someone can find a four-year-old to explain that to Ken Ham.

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Re: Science and Superstition

Postby MarsDragon » Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:02 am

God’s Son remains the ‘Godman’ as our Savior.”




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Re: Science and Superstition

Postby Brentai » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:11 pm

Called it.

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