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Monkeys Writing Scientific Papers

If you've nothing better to do, flip a penny ten thousand times and you might be intrigued by the outcome. Would you expect five thousand heads and five thousand tails? That's not what will happen.

Flip a penny and you've got three choices. Heads. Tails. Penny lands on edge.

Do the same experiment two days in a row and you will be even more surprised. On the first day you will end up with (plus or minus) about 5,050 tails and 4,950 heads. On the second day you will end up with 5,050 heads and 4,950 tails.

Why? Because "stuff" happens, that's why. Do this experiment ten thousand days in a row (27 years) and you'll not get 5,000 heads and 5,000 tails once, even though that is your expectation. Why? I've already told you, stuff happens.

Which brings me to the dairy industry's latest claim. The folks who have brought you the "Drink Milk and Lose Weight" nonsense are now promoting a new lie: "Drink skim milk and your blood pressure will drop."

http://hyper. ahajournals. org/cgi/content/ abstract/ HYPERTENSIONAHA. 1071

Tiny Url: http://tinyurl. com/2l93v5

Let's examine this phony claim. If you drink skim milk, three possible things can happen to your blood pressure. It can go up. It can go down. You can land on your side. OK, ok, it can remain the same.

The dairy industry is endorsing a new study which has been used to analyze tens of thousands of factors to reach previously unreachable conclusions. "Stuff" like this happens when scientists have plenty of data points to play with. "Stuff" like this happens when researchers have a need to publish or perish.

In any event, dairy industry researchers have taken an enormous flying leap of faith by concluding that calcium and vitamin D in skim milk cause one's blood pressure to drop. Such conclusions happen when data is manipulated in a biased manner.

Remarkably, the headlines you will read do not reveal the truth of what happened to women who consumed regular (non-low-fat) dairy products. Their blood pressure soared. Does one order low fat Dominos Pizza or a scoop of low fat Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the real world?

The problem with this study is that people who drink whole milk do not experience the same lowering of blood pressure. Neither do ice cream or cheese eaters although there's plenty of calcium in regular dairy products. This negates such heads or tails studies, but I repeat myself. "Stuff" happens.

As a matter of fact, I've taken my own blood pressure and found that it drops significantly after flipping ten thousand pennies.


"If I let my fingers wander idly over the keys of a typewriter it might happen that my screed made an intelligible sentence. If an army of monkeys were strumming on typewriters they might write all the books in the British Museum."
--A. S. Eddington, 1927

"There's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they've worked out."
--Douglas Adams. Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, 1979

"I assume that they threw a bunch of monkeys in a room full of typewriters and that's how the fall line up happens."
--David Letterman

"DOGBERT: I once read that given infinite time, a thousand monkeys with typewriters would eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare.
DILBERT: But what about my poem?
DOGBERT: Three monkeys, ten minutes."
--Scott Adams, Dilbert comic strip, 15 May 1989.

"If you put a thousand monkeys in a room with a thousand typewriters and waited long enough...eventually you will have a room full of dead monkeys."
--Jane Goodall (she didn't really say that. I made it up.)


Would the final quote work for dairy scientists?

Robert Cohen
http://www.notmilk. com

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