[ExI] restoration-ready

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Thu May 27 18:04:26 UTC 2021



…> On Behalf Of Dan TheBookMan via extropy-chat
Subject: Re: [ExI] restoration-ready


>>…  The creosote offgassing on a hot day into the passenger compartment could scarcely be beneficial.


>…I believe you’re thinking of the sleepers outgassing— not the ties (or rails). Actually, wooden railroad track sleepers might not be such a bad thing for cushioning an impact. The wood would likely splinter or crumble or collapse absorbing some of the force. Well, more than a tie or a rail would, no?  Regards, Dan


Ja Dan we are talking about the same thing: I call them railroad ties, as in BillW’s original post.  They are also called sleepers.





“…Rail sleepers are an important part of railway components. In general, they are also called railroad ties, railway ties or crossties. In order to keep the correct distance of gauge, the rail sleeper usually lays between the two rail tracks…”


The wooden parts contain creosote.


This whole thing is something for which I must guard against confirmation bias.  During the time I was cheerfully squandering my tragically misspent childhood, a huge stir arose which served as an object lesson in statistics for the proletariat.  A SCIENTIST had discovered a correlation between telephone poles and lung cancer.  The correlation coefficient went magically above that mysterious but canonical 95% confidence interval which we were confidently told meant that correlation was true.  Those poles were somehow related to lung cancer.


Well, OK then what about a telephone pole would cause lung cancer?  Those are just wood, pressure treated with… creosote!  A derivative of coal tar it is.  Surely evil it must be.  Lung cancer you know.  Well, that notion sold like hotcakes.  The tobacco companies in those days (the 60s (yes dammit NINETEEN sixties (sheesh))) were still struggling to deny what was obvious as hell to anyone with at least one functional eye and at least two functional brain cells: of course tobacco smoke was causing cancer.  A lotta guys smoked back in those days, and some didn’t.  It wasn’t a bit difficult to tell a health difference between those who did and those who did not.


But I digress.  This SCIENTIST (almighty in those days) had found a 95% correlation between telephone poles and lung cancer, and everyone knew that below 95% confidence: discard theory as coincidence.  Above 95%: accept as fact.  We still didn’t have 95% confidence in lung cancer vs smoking, but we had 95% with telephone poles and cancer.


Panic ensued.  Cities started opting at great expense for steel telephone poles (at some point it occurs to a prole to recognize that many of his readers are too young to know the definition of “telephone pole” (and perhaps some have never seen one.))  While all this was going on, many of us began to wonder why 95% was the magic number.  If it is 2 sigma, why 2?  Why not 94% or 96?  Who proclaimed 95 percent confidence the arbiter of truth?


Turns out… a correlation between metal poles and lung cancer was every bit as high (slightly higher (both achieving the magic rank of statistically significant)) between the metal poles and lung cancer.  Simultaneously it was reported that workers who spent their entire careers hoisting railroad sleepers and bathed every day to remove creosote had no elevated lung cancer risk.


What was eventually reported is that we were seeing a classic case of correlation without causation: both the telephone poles and the lung cancer in developing suburban areas were the result of the common cause of increasing numbers of lungs.


Problem solved.  Proles wiser.  Scientists really don’t know everything.


To this day, I recall having been told to avoid touching wooden telephone poles for it was associated with lung cancer.  It didn’t seem right to me even then, in my elementary school years.  Eventually of course the notion was exaggerated all the way down until the children were convinced that should a young miscreant merely brush against one, she will be dead when she hits the ground.  I was ethically forced to demonstrate to the locals to the contrary, by putting my nose against the pole and sniffing deeply.  Such a thespian I am, for it made for some fine drama as I dramatically feigned a coughing fit, followed by death, soon followed my a miraculous resurrection, as several of the more gullible ones fled in terror at my apparent demise.


Eh, we kids are so stupid.  I know, I used to be one.  I had fun.







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