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Author Topic: Things you know about AIDS  (Read 6629 times)

Aimless

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Things you know about AIDS
« on: 20 Mar 2008, 10:36 »

Or possibly not

It's a 15-min talk by an economist, about what we [think we] know about AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. I don't have enough grounding in sociology or economy to attempt critiquing it, but it's nonetheless one of my fave lectures on TED so far :)

Hope some of you appreciate it, too.

-- P
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #1 on: 20 Mar 2008, 11:26 »

16 minutes, foo.



This is really pretty interesting. It had never occurred to me to really question the Facts, because they came from authorities on the issue and because they are just what everyone knows, I guess. Good show.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #2 on: 20 Mar 2008, 18:40 »

Hey I'm an idiot
« Last Edit: 20 Mar 2008, 18:58 by Patrick »
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #3 on: 20 Mar 2008, 18:43 »

....
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #4 on: 20 Mar 2008, 18:45 »

But yeah, that video was really interesting. It's good to be able to see things from a perspective wildly different from your own.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #5 on: 20 Mar 2008, 18:49 »

Hey I'm an idiot again
« Last Edit: 20 Mar 2008, 18:59 by Patrick »
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #6 on: 20 Mar 2008, 18:56 »

I doubt anyone would have and that's a weak excuse besides. There are plenty of threads to be an idiot in, and this isn't really one of them.

On topic: does anyone think this will have serious effects on the spread of contagious illnesses? Will we have border quarantines for humans?
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #7 on: 21 Mar 2008, 03:29 »

That's an interesting question. Within Africa I doubt it, since border quarantines would require a massive scaling up of the governmental resources used in border control and most African countries wouldn't be able to afford, that particularly since such a measure would damage their revenue from trade. Or at least not the countries worst hit by HIV/AIDS. Outside Africa is a different story, I can easily see Western European governments using something like that to increase already tight border controls, particularly in somewhere like the UK.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #8 on: 21 Mar 2008, 09:07 »

Borders in sub-Saharan Africa aren't like borders in the West.  Three countries were walking armies right into the capital of DR Congo for most of the past 10 years.  Ethiopia and Eritrea have been in a state of war or near war for a similar period.  Every time there's a major upheaval, hundreds of thousands cross borders en masse seeking to escape violence.  Tight border controls for many of these countries are about as realistic as magic HIV curing pixie dust.

The video was provocative, but you have to take a lot of what was said with several grains of salt.  Partly this is because the presenter obviously had to omit a lot of context to deliver a talk in 16 minutes.  But partly this was because her interest was less in making rational and well-grounded arguments and more on stirring the pot.

To whit wit: HIV causes AIDS.  HIV is transmitted sexually, through shared needles, blood transfusion, or during pregnancy/birth.  Obviously an ABC (abstinence, faithfulness, condoms) program would cut down on HIV transmission to the extent that in the context of the local customs and culture it actually convinced people to have sex with fewer new partners.  Her point of the effectiveness of this program in one country given the impact of coffee imports is somewhat mooted by the fact that, for instance, Togo may be set up with a government, clergy and local custom that makes a "faithfulness/condom" drive attractive to the locals whereas Ghana may not.  Furthermore she consistently fails to mention what factors she excluded to derive causation from correlation

The correlation of coffee prices to new HIV transmissions (which was far from a perfect match, observe the bump at the beginning in coffee prices that wasn't matched in HIV transmissions) might be explained by something other than causation.  For instance, what if while coffee prices are high, there's more money for HIV testing, and more new cases are identified.  Furthermore, her analysis omitted a major step -- she assumes that higher coffee prices means more trade, means more people from outside the country spreading HIV inside the country.  That's a major leap of logic -- why should we assume that as coffee prices go up, the total quantity of coffee traded goes up?  It's just as plausible that as coffee goes down, more coffee must be exported to make up for the shortfall in profits per unit of coffee.  Without verifying which is the case, the causation link is nothing more than an unsubstantiated assumption.

I could go on but it would be rather pointless -- the presenter might have anticipated and explained away everything I'm saying and simply not had time to raise these issues in a 16 minute talk.  My point is that with pop presentations which fail to approach a complex issue with anything resembling rigor, it pays to exercise a healthy level of skepticism. 
« Last Edit: 24 Mar 2008, 12:34 by pilsner »
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #9 on: 21 Mar 2008, 09:16 »

Well I'll be a monkey's uncle, I went to highschool with her. We had a math class together. Man, I thought I was pretty good at math, finishing calculus my junior year, until I found out she was a sophomore. Also, she was a track star (captain of the team I think.) I'm pretty sure she was valedictorian of my sister's class.

Adding to pilsner's points, note that she is totally being influenced by Steven Levitt, the real star of the economics department at the University of Chicago. He's the guy who wrote Freakonomics, and her whole talk very much smacks of Levitt's approach in that book. In short, she is setting herself up to write a me-to book and hopefully get a lucrative publishing deal.
« Last Edit: 21 Mar 2008, 09:22 by jhocking »
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #10 on: 21 Mar 2008, 11:56 »

Am I allowed to have an internet-crush on someone based on how they write? Like, is that even ok?
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #11 on: 21 Mar 2008, 13:17 »

Katie, you develop crushes on everyone, one more isnt going to hurt!

Also, while yes, the talk should, like most talks, should be taken with a grain of salt, but, given that the whole concept of TED (which is quite new to me, and i have to say, i lurvse it), is to make people think, to reach people that normally wouldnt raise an eyebrow.

To do that, yes, assumptions and leaps in logic must be taken. The thing is, if you dont do that, your getting nowhere anyway (and no publishing deal either!)

Also, i likses the James Watson talk moar, but that might be just me :)
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #12 on: 24 Mar 2008, 04:18 »

To whit: HIV causes AIDS.  HIV is transmitted sexually, through shared needles, blood transfusion, or during pregnancy/birth.  Obviously an ABC (abstinence, faithfulness, condoms) program would cut down on HIV transmission to the extent that in the context of the local customs and culture it actually convinced people to have sex with fewer new partners.  Her point of the effectiveness of this program in one country given the impact of coffee imports is somewhat mooted by the fact that, for instance, Togo may be set up with a government, clergy and local custom that makes a "faithfulness/condom" drive attractive to the locals whereas Ghana may not.  Furthermore she consistently fails to mention what factors she excluded to derive causation from correlation.
These are good points, but she really brought up those arguments to show that the conclusion that ABC programs are effective isn't necessarily correct because the apparent success of the program may be due to other factors, such as coffee prices. To wit: that no one's proved that the drop in AIDS rate in Uganda was caused by the ABC program rather than correlated in the first place.

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The correlation of coffee prices to new HIV transmissions (which was far from a perfect match, observe the bump at the beginning in coffee prices that wasn't matched in HIV transmissions) might be explained by something other than causation.  For instance, what if while coffee prices are high, there's more money for HIV testing, and more new cases are identified.  Furthermore, her analysis omitted a major step -- she assumes that higher coffee prices means more trade, means more people from outside the country spreading HIV inside the country.
A perfect match in the coffee price curve and the AIDS rate curve isn't necessary as long as the changes are significantly interrelated. There are statistical methods to determine the quality of such a comparison match, and I don't think it's farfetched to assume that she's run the data and come up positive.

The bump you note is small, and also there's a capacitance to commodity price fluctuations affecting other systems that will smooth out a response curve. It might be too small to have a noticeable direct effect and may only show up as a higher-order response. Imagine, by analogy, that you're driving at a steady 55 mph and blip the throttle. You might see your tach jump and hear the engine rev up a little, but your speed won't change significantly--what's happened is that the drivetrain of your engine has smoothed out that bump in power, but that doesn't mean your speed is independent of engine output.

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  That's a major leap of logic -- why should we assume that as coffee prices go up, the total quantity of coffee traded goes up?  It's just as plausible that as coffee goes down, more coffee must be exported to make up for the shortfall in profits per unit of coffee.  Without verifying which is the case, the causation link is nothing more than an unsubstantiated assumption.
No one is making that assumption. Exports are measured in value, not quantity since comparing a thousand coffee beans to a thousand sheets of paper isn't economically useful.  She previously noted a positive correlation between amount of exports and rate of AIDS. As coffee prices go down, exports go down, AIDS rate goes down.

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I could go on but it would be rather pointless -- the presenter might have anticipated and explained away everything I'm saying and simply not had time to raise these issues in a 16 minute talk.  My point is that with pop presentations which fail to approach a complex issue with anything resembling rigor, it pays to exercise a healthy level of skepticism. 
That is assumed of such talks. She *is* an acedemic and is working on a paper documenting her research. However, this is beside her point that AIDS policy in sub-Saharan Africa should be revised.

I wouldn't consider this a "pop presentation", but as far as rigor is concerned, she was working off of data that everybody thought they already knew. If you think about it, she was actually promoting a rigorour reexamination of the data. Also, TED attendees aren't really the type to *not* be skeptical.
« Last Edit: 24 Mar 2008, 04:21 by dennis »
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #13 on: 24 Mar 2008, 07:45 »

I went to highschool with her. We had a mouth class together.

This is how I read this, initially.

Clearly, I've not had an adequate amount of sleep.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #14 on: 24 Mar 2008, 11:03 »

I believe this has already been addressed in depth:

http://forums.questionablecontent.net/index.php/topic,17409.0.html
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #15 on: 24 Mar 2008, 14:14 »

These are good points, but she really brought up those arguments to show that the conclusion that ABC programs are effective isn't necessarily correct because the apparent success of the program may be due to other factors, such as coffee prices. To wit: that no one's proved that the drop in AIDS rate in Uganda was caused by the ABC program rather than correlated in the first place.

No, at 14:30 of the talk Oster states that the ABC campaign may have been 25-50% less effective than previously thought, ergo the 15 billion dollars in aid might be better spent other than on an education campaign.  She never suggests that the ABC campaign was ineffective, just less effective than previously thought.  Keeping in mind that, according to Oster, Uganda's infected rate dropped from 19% to 6%, this is a significant distinction.  In any event, my point remains that even if we give Oster the benefit of the doubt and assume that only half of the 13% drop in infected is due to ABC, the impact of this analysis is lessened by the dependence of an education campaign on the culture in which its being implemented.

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A perfect match in the coffee price curve and the AIDS rate curve isn't necessary as long as the changes are significantly interrelated. There are statistical methods to determine the quality of such a comparison match, and I don't think it's farfetched to assume that she's run the data and come up positive.

The bump you note is small, and also there's a capacitance to commodity price fluctuations affecting other systems that will smooth out a response curve. It might be too small to have a noticeable direct effect and may only show up as a higher-order response. Imagine, by analogy, that you're driving at a steady 55 mph and blip the throttle. You might see your tach jump and hear the engine rev up a little, but your speed won't change significantly--what's happened is that the drivetrain of your engine has smoothed out that bump in power, but that doesn't mean your speed is independent of engine output.

I'm sure Oster's regression analysis came up positive.  I'm also sure that you're aware how unreliable regression analyses are.  You ever hear the old adage about two economists and three opinions?  In any event, I'm merely noting the discrepancy to point out that one would have to assume that the linkage between export value and new infections only works when export value rises or drops precipitously for this linkage to work at all.  This misses my main point, which you failed to engage, which is that the correlation between export value and new infections is better explained by the rising availability of testing than it is by a greater amount of export motivated mobility among Ugandans.  The entire assumption that greater export value means more strangers means more spread of HIV bothers me something fierce -- a precipitous drop in export value might cause farmers to be uprooted and forced to migrate to urban centers which would entail (a) more exposure to HIV and (b) less ability to test for new infections because of all these suddenly appearing stranger ruralites.  The correlation is interesting, granted, but the conclusions Oster is drawing from them are unwarranted and highly contingent on the economic and social situation in Uganda.

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No one is making that assumption. Exports are measured in value, not quantity since comparing a thousand coffee beans to a thousand sheets of paper isn't economically useful.  She previously noted a positive correlation between amount of exports and rate of AIDS. As coffee prices go down, exports go down, AIDS rate goes down.

Here you are demonstrably wrong.  Both the cumulative value and the quantity by volume or mass of exports are of interest to economists.  Oster seems to agree with me given that she discusses both correlation with value and volume in table 12 of her working paper.  Rising export value, which is what is correlated to new infections on the graph at 14:18 of the talk, is not what determines the amount of strangers circulating in Ugandan ports and towns spreading and catching HIV and thereby driving up the number of new infections.  No, what would drive up new infections is an increase in the volume of coffee trafficked, which would require a larger number of people to be present loading, shipping, and accounting for the coffee, which in turn would bring more strangers to Ugandan ports and towns, etc. etc.  Yet Oster draws the linkage between volume of exports in her talk and presents a graph comparing export value -- this is completely inadequate.

So why, we might ask, did Oster present a graph comparing value instead of volume?  Table 12 of her working paper shows that according to her calculations, the value correlation explains about 60% of the drop in new infections whereas the volume correlation explains only 33% of the drop.  Of course, mentioning this in the presentation would have lessened the impact....

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That is assumed of such talks. She *is* an acedemic and is working on a paper documenting her research. However, this is beside her point that AIDS policy in sub-Saharan Africa should be revised.

I wouldn't consider this a "pop presentation", but as far as rigor is concerned, she was working off of data that everybody thought they already knew. If you think about it, she was actually promoting a rigorour reexamination of the data. Also, TED attendees aren't really the type to *not* be skeptical.

I'm sure you know that I wasn't addressing my comments to TED participants, given that I posted them in the Questionable Content comic strip forums.  Oster is an assistant professor at the very beginning of her career who stood up in front of a group largely composed of people who were not academics and who did not specialize in her field, and made a series of very speculative inferences that she would never have made with the same confidence at an economics conference, and which only present the most exaggerated and worst supported data from her accompanying working paper.

Yeah, I think pop presentation is dead on.
« Last Edit: 24 Mar 2008, 17:25 by pilsner »
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #16 on: 24 Mar 2008, 18:35 »

Borders in sub-Saharan Africa aren't like borders in the West. (snip) Every time there's a major upheaval, hundreds of thousands cross borders en masse seeking to escape violence.  Tight border controls for many of these countries are about as realistic as magic HIV curing pixie dust.

Idunno, there was that Peace Corps volunteer a couple months ago who tried to evacuate Kenya's election-related violence by hiding in a potato truck, and they got stopped at the border and all of them got turned back because she was unable to get her passport from the Peace Corps office, because, well, the capital was kindof going through a lot of urban warfare.

To be fair she was white and stood out like a goddamn neon sign in the heart of Africa, but the point is that some countries are finally able to control their borders more effectively. On the other hand, though, some countries don't want to control the borders, because the governments themselves are involved in illegal trafficking.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #17 on: 25 Mar 2008, 18:20 »

No, at 14:30 of the talk Oster states that the ABC campaign may have been 25-50% less effective than previously thought, ergo the 15 billion dollars in aid might be better spent other than on an education campaign.  She never suggests that the ABC campaign was ineffective, just less effective than previously thought.  Keeping in mind that, according to Oster, Uganda's infected rate dropped from 19% to 6%, this is a significant distinction.  In any event, my point remains that even if we give Oster the benefit of the doubt and assume that only half of the 13% drop in infected is due to ABC, the impact of this analysis is lessened by the dependence of an education campaign on the culture in which its being implemented.
Well, we agree that Oster is trying to show that the effectiveness of the ABC campaign is overstated. The cultural dynamics of an ABC campaign is out of the scope of her talk.

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I'm sure Oster's regression analysis came up positive.  I'm also sure that you're aware how unreliable regression analyses are.  You ever hear the old adage about two economists and three opinions?  In any event, I'm merely noting the discrepancy to point out that one would have to assume that the linkage between export value and new infections only works when export value rises or drops precipitously for this linkage to work at all.  This misses my main point, which you failed to engage, which is that the correlation between export value and new infections is better explained by the rising availability of testing than it is by a greater amount of export motivated mobility among Ugandans.  The entire assumption that greater export value means more strangers means more spread of HIV bothers me something fierce -- a precipitous drop in export value might cause farmers to be uprooted and forced to migrate to urban centers which would entail (a) more exposure to HIV and (b) less ability to test for new infections because of all these suddenly appearing stranger ruralites.  The correlation is interesting, granted, but the conclusions Oster is drawing from them are unwarranted and highly contingent on the economic and social situation in Uganda.
Regression analyses are not inherently unreliable. In any case, her paper runs the same analysis on data from different sub-Saharan countries and test cases and finds strong case that the mechanism is real and not, as she specifically mentions, a secondary result of another contribution.

As to your main point, I apologize for ignoring it and will address it now: There is no support for your argument that the export-AIDS rate link is better explained by the "rising availability of testing". There was virtually no testing and definitely no reliable testing for AIDS in Uganda (and Africa) during the period of time Oster studied. Oster spent a good portion of her talk explaining how she had to derive the disease rate from death distributions and how she validated those figures.

She made other analyses of economic vs. HIV patterns in sub-Saharan Africa and found that it fit her model as well. (HIV rates in areas with lots of roads vs. areas with few roads, between truckers and their wives, etc). She did control for GDP and found that there wasn't a significant difference.

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Here you are demonstrably wrong.  Both the cumulative value and the quantity by volume or mass of exports are of interest to economists.  Oster seems to agree with me given that she discusses both correlation with value and volume in table 12 of her working paper.  Rising export value, which is what is correlated to new infections on the graph at 14:18 of the talk, is not what determines the amount of strangers circulating in Ugandan ports and towns spreading and catching HIV and thereby driving up the number of new infections.  No, what would drive up new infections is an increase in the volume of coffee trafficked, which would require a larger number of people to be present loading, shipping, and accounting for the coffee, which in turn would bring more strangers to Ugandan ports and towns, etc. etc.  Yet Oster draws the linkage between volume of exports in her talk and presents a graph comparing export value -- this is completely inadequate.
I was saying that value is what ties commodities together. When you know the value of a commodity, you know by extension how much of it there was. That's why a commodity is a commodity. But yes, volume is important, too. In any case, I was addressing your misunderstanding of why the decrease in exports was blamed on a drop in coffee prices. You can't just export more to make up for lower prices. If a coffee producer is getting less for his coffee, he can't afford to pay the people who grow, transport, and sell more of it; nor does it mean that the demand for more coffee is there even if the producer could produce more.


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So why, we might ask, did Oster present a graph comparing value instead of volume?  Table 12 of her working paper shows that according to her calculations, the value correlation explains about 60% of the drop in new infections whereas the volume correlation explains only 33% of the drop.  Of course, mentioning this in the presentation would have lessened the impact....
She presented the graph comparing value to HIV incidence because it was the better match to the incidence curve, not because it predicted a higher proportion of new infections. The export volume to HIV incidence model is just not as good a fit, as you can see by the R-squared values noted in tables 5 and 6. Note that the quality of fit is independent of the prediction of HIV incidence.

This implies that it is not so simple as you put it (more volume = more people spreading disease). Higher value could mean that producers are paying workers and drivers more, or are hiring more drivers, or buying more trucks (Oster actually analyzed truck imports against this data and got a positive correlation).

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I'm sure you know that I wasn't addressing my comments to TED participants, given that I posted them in the Questionable Content comic strip forums.  Oster is an assistant professor at the very beginning of her career who stood up in front of a group largely composed of people who were not academics and who did not specialize in her field, and made a series of very speculative inferences that she would never have made with the same confidence at an economics conference, and which only present the most exaggerated and worst supported data from her accompanying working paper.

Yeah, I think pop presentation is dead on.
Don't be so presumptive, considering how off the mark you are in your claims about Oster's talk. The fact remains that her presentation was to an audience of TED attendees, and she was invited to speak by the organization, and I doubt anyone would characterize them as gullible. TED is about new ideas, it's not a peer-reviewed journal. It's not as if she used any out-of-this world techniques or analyses in the paper. What is significant is that she applied those mundane techniques in a new direction and found surprising results.


« Last Edit: 25 Mar 2008, 18:26 by dennis »
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #18 on: 25 Mar 2008, 19:33 »

Borders in sub-Saharan Africa aren't like borders in the West. (snip) Every time there's a major upheaval, hundreds of thousands cross borders en masse seeking to escape violence.  Tight border controls for many of these countries are about as realistic as magic HIV curing pixie dust.

Idunno, there was that Peace Corps volunteer a couple months ago who tried to evacuate Kenya's election-related violence by hiding in a potato truck, and they got stopped at the border and all of them got turned back because she was unable to get her passport from the Peace Corps office, because, well, the capital was kindof going through a lot of urban warfare.

To be fair she was white and stood out like a goddamn neon sign in the heart of Africa, but the point is that some countries are finally able to control their borders more effectively. On the other hand, though, some countries don't want to control the borders, because the governments themselves are involved in illegal trafficking.

No, it's  true that (some) borders in Africa, particularly south of the Sahara (although the issue of Morocco/Western Sahara throws borders into disarray) are extremely porous, particularly around failed states like Somalia. Zimbabwe, in particular, has seen some 1/3 of its population flee across unguarded borders into Botswana and South Africa because of the utter annihilation of that country's economy (inflation is, no joke, running at 100,000 percent.) Another good example is the border of Sudan and Chad, where rebel groups from both countries that are loosely aligned with either Idriss Deby of Chad, or Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, trying to overthrow eachother by proxy, cross over the border with complete impunity. I mean, you have to remember that these borders were drawn up by colonial powers with no thought to tribe, culture or language. Often times, they just drew random straight lines.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #19 on: 25 Mar 2008, 21:04 »

If a coffee producer is getting less for his coffee, he can't afford to pay the people who grow, transport, and sell more of it; nor does it mean that the demand for more coffee is there even if the producer could produce more.

That's all supposition on your part.  More importantly, if you look at it the other way, greater volume (supply) would generally lower commodity prices.  Or so every Econ 101 text in the country seems to suggest.

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There was virtually no testing and definitely no reliable testing for AIDS in Uganda (and Africa) during the period of time Oster studied. Oster spent a good portion of her talk explaining how she had to derive the disease rate from death distributions and how she validated those figures.

Good point.  Where did the new infections by year in Uganda figures come from?  If she's working backward from the mortality figures that she derived from her age group analysis (which I don't believe she was), her results are even more skewed by false specificity than I believed.  But Oster stated in the talk that there were infected numbers in Uganda for certain populations, but not for the country at large.  I would hope that she would attempt to extrapolate from those numbers.

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She presented the graph comparing value to HIV incidence because it was the better match to the incidence curve, not because it predicted a higher proportion of new infections.

Your insight into Oster's motivations is remarkable.  I'm amazed that you don't find it suggestive that she produced wildly different "explanation" rates in her study but only presented the higher numbers in her talk.  If the Orioles batting average by season presented an even closer curve, should she have put that data up?  I'm thinking no -- because there's no basis for arguing causation.  Then why work off of export value? 

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Higher value could mean that producers are paying workers and drivers more, or are hiring more drivers, or buying more trucks (Oster actually analyzed truck imports against this data and got a positive correlation).

Higher export value means paying workers and drivers which spreads more HIV.  Dude, I am just amazed.  This is fantastic stuff.  Maybe they're hiring more hookers with their extra money.  We could call it the governor theory of HIV epidemiology.  You should definitely write a paper.

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TED is about new ideas, it's not a peer-reviewed journal.

Agreed!
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #20 on: 26 Mar 2008, 05:48 »

I mean, you have to remember that these borders were drawn up by colonial powers with no thought to tribe, culture or language. Often times, they just drew random straight lines.

I'm pretty sure that's exactly where the vast majority of Africa's problems lay.
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jhocking

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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #21 on: 26 Mar 2008, 06:30 »

Don't forget the Middle East.

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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #22 on: 26 Mar 2008, 07:21 »

You're depressing me. Stop it.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #23 on: 26 Mar 2008, 08:29 »

Quote from: CNN
Once, Hutus and Tutsis lived in harmony in Central Africa. About 600 years ago, Tutsis, a tall, warrior people, moved south from Ethiopia and invaded the homeland of the Hutus. Though much smaller in number, they conquered the Hutus, who agreed to raise crops for them in return for protection.

Even in the colonial era -- when Belgium ruled the area, after taking it from Germany in 1916 -- the two groups lived as one, speaking the same language, intermarrying, and obeying a nearly godlike Tutsi king.

Independence changed everything. The monarchy was dissolved and Belgian troops withdrawn -- a power vacuum both Tutsis and Hutus fought to fill. Two new countries emerged in 1962 -- Rwanda, dominated by the Hutus, and Burundi by the Tutsis -- and the ethnic fighting flared on and off in the following decades.

It exploded in 1994 with the civil war in Rwanda in which hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Tutsi rebels won control, which sent a million Hutus, fearful of revenge, into Zaire and Tanzania.

In Burundi, the Tutsis yielded power after a Hutu won the country's first democratic election in 1993. He was killed in an attempted coup four months later, and his successor in a suspicious plane crash in 1994, in which the Hutu leader of Rwanda was also killed.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #24 on: 26 Mar 2008, 23:21 »

If a coffee producer is getting less for his coffee, he can't afford to pay the people who grow, transport, and sell more of it; nor does it mean that the demand for more coffee is there even if the producer could produce more.

That's all supposition on your part.  More importantly, if you look at it the other way, greater volume (supply) would generally lower commodity prices.  Or so every Econ 101 text in the country seems to suggest.
How is this supposition? This is basic economics. Farmers have a fixed amount of raw product that is determined at the beginning of the growing season, which after the crop is in, they need to process and transport and market. If the price for their product drops, where are they going to get the money to stay in business? The numbers back this up, you know. Coffee prices drop, export value goes down, export volume goes down. Coffee makes up the majority  of Uganda's exports.

And yes. Greater supply sates demand which lowers prices, but you are the one making the supposition here that you can turn coffee supply up like a knob. You can't sell more coffee than you grow. Remember, this is a seasonal, perishable commodity.

Quote
Quote
There was virtually no testing and definitely no reliable testing for AIDS in Uganda (and Africa) during the period of time Oster studied. Oster spent a good portion of her talk explaining how she had to derive the disease rate from death distributions and how she validated those figures.

Good point.  Where did the new infections by year in Uganda figures come from?  If she's working backward from the mortality figures that she derived from her age group analysis (which I don't believe she was), her results are even more skewed by false specificity than I believed.  But Oster stated in the talk that there were infected numbers in Uganda for certain populations, but not for the country at large.  I would hope that she would attempt to extrapolate from those numbers.
The derived the figures from age-group mortality data, which she checked against known profiles from similar countries that have reliable testing. Also, you can't "extrapolate" figures for the population at large from figures for particular groups.

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She presented the graph comparing value to HIV incidence because it was the better match to the incidence curve, not because it predicted a higher proportion of new infections.

Your insight into Oster's motivations is remarkable.  I'm amazed that you don't find it suggestive that she produced wildly different "explanation" rates in her study but only presented the higher numbers in her talk.  If the Orioles batting average by season presented an even closer curve, should she have put that data up?  I'm thinking no -- because there's no basis for arguing causation.  Then why work off of export value?
There's no "insight" here to speak of. She tested three related hypotheses and picked to present the one that made the best model. Also, the curves weren't "wildly" different. Significantly different, but considering the limited data set, they all say the same thing. You keep harping on correlation does not imply causation, which is true, but you are ignoring the supporting evidence that does imply causation. You can't argue that Ugandan economic data is just as arbitrary as Orioles baseball statistics in this case.

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Higher value could mean that producers are paying workers and drivers more, or are hiring more drivers, or buying more trucks (Oster actually analyzed truck imports against this data and got a positive correlation).

Higher export value means paying workers and drivers which spreads more HIV.  Dude, I am just amazed.  This is fantastic stuff.  Maybe they're hiring more hookers with their extra money.  We could call it the governor theory of HIV epidemiology.  You should definitely write a paper.
Don't be asinine.

Your bias is clear. If you're not actually going to read the paper, perhaps you should lay off the armchair criticism.
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Patrick

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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #25 on: 27 Mar 2008, 05:34 »

Chill for a second, dude this is a forum on the internet, it's not the bloody G8.

Besides, I think it's all crap anyway. People are bored and life is difficult, full of fear, and depressing. What's one fun thing they can do? Have sex with each other. It's like college, except with more fatal STDs.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #26 on: 27 Mar 2008, 17:18 »

So it's a forum on the internet. I'm still talking to real people (at least recently anyway). If it's against forum policy, that's one thing, but otherwise you're being pretty rude.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #27 on: 28 Mar 2008, 07:05 »

Don't be asinine.

Your bias is clear. If you're not actually going to read the paper, perhaps you should lay off the armchair criticism.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #28 on: 28 Mar 2008, 07:46 »

Patrick - Dennis and pilsner are two adults having a reasonable discussion in a thread to which previously you had only contributed insensitive, asinine nonsense to the extent that you had to go back and edit your own posts out of existence.

Ever since you changed your name you've been in every single thread telling people everything you immediately think about everything all the time. Not every thread is waiting for your judgement of what is right or wrong, what is or is not acceptable on this forum, what is or is not acceptable humour. Please give your posts just a bit more thought. Let a few threads pass by every once in a while. Try not to post unless you have something to say. The sort of things we encourage in newbies. Right now you seem to be enjoying the sound of your own keyboard a bit too much.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #29 on: 28 Mar 2008, 08:42 »

So I edited some fuck-around posts out of existence. Are you saying I never should've admitted my mistake and just defended my jackassery to the last? That is absolutely preposterous. If I'm not allowed to admit I did something stupid and do my best to fix it, then you're not allowed to fart at the dinner table.

I'm not saying get rid of the thread, but that post that I referred to seemed to be rather inflammatory. I also realize that recently I haven't exactly been one to talk. My apologies to dennis, but my point still stands: it's turning inflammatory, and nobody likes inflammatory.

Edit for more on-topic:

Besides, I think it's all crap anyway. People are bored and life is difficult, full of fear, and depressing. What's one fun thing they can do? Have sex with each other. It's like college, except with more fatal STDs.

Maybe I should've been more specific in saying that I don't think coffee trading has much to do with the spread of HIV at all. Sure, maybe some truck driver is going to go bang somebody after his run's over, but I don't think trading in and of itself is to blame. If the drivers who DO go out and have unprotected sex were to practice safer sex methods, the spread of HIV would drop tremendously, that's my bet.
« Last Edit: 28 Mar 2008, 08:54 by Patrick »
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #30 on: 28 Mar 2008, 09:04 »

So I edited some fuck-around posts out of existence. Are you saying I never should've admitted my mistake and just defended my jackassery to the last? That is absolutely preposterous. If I'm not allowed to admit I did something stupid and do my best to fix it, then you're not allowed to fart at the dinner table.
He didn't say anything about whether or not you should have edited those posts, only that you did. I mean, I would assume he agrees that it was a good idea for you to edit those posts, but he didn't mention that because it's irrelevant to his point. I believe his point was that you aren't exactly the model of maturity and thus probably shouldn't be acting all holier-than-thou in speaking to others. Admittedly he was unclear about his intention in bringing that up so this is a guess on my part.

More generally his point wasn't that anything you've said or done is incorrect per se, just that you should chill out a little with telling other people what to do.

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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #31 on: 28 Mar 2008, 16:26 »

ITT: we make a mountain of a molehill
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #32 on: 28 Mar 2008, 18:49 »

ITT: The irony Patrick getting all "butthurt" when someone tells him to chill out about lecturing people about getting "butthurt" when he tells them to chill out.

AlsoITT: Poor sentence structure...?
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #34 on: 28 Mar 2008, 20:46 »

I am amazed that saying "Chill out" is (A) considered a lecture and (B) something worth biting somebody's head off over.

Ever since you changed your name you've been in every single thread telling people everything you immediately think about everything all the time.

Be fucking realistic, Tommy. Do you honestly think I go into every thread just so I can say "This thread is shit, delete it"? I only really voice disapproval of something if I honestly think it needs addressing. 90% of the time, if I say "This does not deserve life" I am doing it for comic effect.

Either you have no sense of humor, or you have just assumed the worst about me for god knows what reason.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #36 on: 28 Mar 2008, 20:54 »

It's because you're a jerk. Just sayin'.

 :-)
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #37 on: 29 Mar 2008, 03:51 »

I'm not saying get rid of the thread, but that post that I referred to seemed to be rather inflammatory. I also realize that recently I haven't exactly been one to talk. My apologies to dennis, but my point still stands: it's turning inflammatory, and nobody likes inflammatory.
I disagree that it was inflammatory, but of course, that's my opinion. I could simply have said something like "You're being an ass. Read the paper, you ignorant tool," but I did not because that wasn't called for.

On the other hand, you were basically telling pilsner and me to hold our tongues while offering your own nonconstructive, dismissive opinion. That seems rude to me.

Quote
Edit for more on-topic:

Besides, I think it's all crap anyway. People are bored and life is difficult, full of fear, and depressing. What's one fun thing they can do? Have sex with each other. It's like college, except with more fatal STDs.

Maybe I should've been more specific in saying that I don't think coffee trading has much to do with the spread of HIV at all. Sure, maybe some truck driver is going to go bang somebody after his run's over, but I don't think trading in and of itself is to blame. If the drivers who DO go out and have unprotected sex were to practice safer sex methods, the spread of HIV would drop tremendously, that's my bet.
Taking your comments in the context of the presentation, they say almost nothing substantive. Oster's presentation was offering a hypothesis that safer sex campaigns were not as effective in Uganda as they are thought to be, and part of the evidence was the strong correlation between increased export value and increased HIV incidence, backed up by studies of truck drivers and their spouses, among others. If what you're saying is true, then in the wake of the ABC campaign in Uganda, truck drivers should not be spreading HIV, but the data shows the opposite. Perhaps truck drivers weren't well-reached by the ABC campaign, but that explanation doesn't invalidate Oster's hypothesis.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #38 on: 29 Mar 2008, 12:28 »

Either you have no sense of humor, or you have just assumed the worst about me for god knows what reason.

You are posting a lot more but there hasn't been any real improvement in the quality of your posts.

Just spend about fifteen seconds longer on each post is all I'm saying.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #39 on: 29 Mar 2008, 19:16 »

Or be like me and post less. Now that I don't have a computer in my room its hard to waste hours at a time on the forums and therefore I have been posting only when I truly felt it necessary. Mostly.
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #40 on: 31 Mar 2008, 04:09 »

This is an interesting debate, maybe everyone involved needs to tune down a little, after all while you may disagree your both making some good points.

The point of the presentation was, AIDS is bad but we know very little about it which is true. 20 years on from Live Aid and we stil know so little about the disease and so many people are ignorant to the risks, even in the US/UK etc. Oster raises an amazing flaw when she states that we have only got good data about AIDS since 2003!

What is clear is HIV/AIDS cannot be tackled by one method alone. It will rely on increasing education, reducing poverty, improving medicine/vaccination for HIV/AIDS and other diseases and may other things. For starters if many of these countries stopped the mass-killing of each other and tried to sort out their problems for a while a lot more might get done! In The Sudan there has been civil war for 50 years, how can a country ever properly develop in such conditions?
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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #41 on: 05 Apr 2008, 15:34 »

THIS THREAD DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH BUTTS








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Re: Things you know about AIDS
« Reply #42 on: 07 Apr 2008, 05:47 »

just a quick note for those that are reading and still dont know;

ITT = In This Thread
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