Best TruStories of the Week - #11


#133

I’ll also challenge this claim with 100 TruStake.

I like the two assumptions you present upfront. They logically setup your evidence and argument.
Are there other ingredients in Juuls beside nicotine? It might help some readers like me, who don’t know anything about Juul or vaping, if you listed the the other ingredients (if any) and addressed the health effects of them as well.


#134

Other contents from Juul are listed below but the effects are not well researched as compared to nicotine.

" Juul pods contain a mix of glycerol and propylene glycol, nicotine, benzoic acid, and flavorants, Gould says. The health effects of inhaling these ingredients aren’t well-known, but one thing is certain: Nicotine is a highly addictive substance — and each hit of the Juul packs quite the nicotine punch."

Source


#138

Claim : IOTA is resistant to quantum computer based attacks

Category : Cryptocurrency

Source : IOTA’s Github

My Stake : Back claim (50 cred)

My Argument/Evidence :

IOTA uses Winternitz signatures unlike most other cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin which instead make use of ECDSA (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm). ECDSA remains secure today because of the difficulty of solving the Discrete Logarithm Problem (DLP) by regular computers, which we will show below that quantum computers can solve in much faster time.

As evidence that IOTA uses Winternitz signatures, this blog post by IOTA explains how Winternitz signatures work.

In order to explain why Winternitz signatures are resistant to quantum computer attacks requires me to talk a little bit about quantum computers.

Quantum computers

A classical computer performs operations using classical bits where information is encoded as either 0 or 1. In contrast, a quantum computer can perform operations using quantum bits which allow the value of 0 or 1 simultaneously. As a result of the computer’s qubits existing in simultaneous states, a probabilistic approach to solving problems can be used allowing a certain set to be solved much faster than on traditional computers.

How are quantum computers faster than regular computers?

Time complexity theory helps us reason about how quantum computers can be faster than regular computers. The problems or computationally expensive tasks that computers solve can be broken into distinct classes as shown in the diagram below.

Problems that can be solved in P (polynomial time) are easy for current day computers to solve and are never used for cryptographic purposes. Problems that require NP (non-deterministic polynomial time) to solve are much harder, sometimes even impossible for current day computers to solve. The Discrete Logarithm Problem (DLP) is an example of a problem that can only be solved by traditional computers in NP time.

The real threat that quantum computers pose to existing DLP based cryptographic systems is that they use the nature of qubits with Shor’s Algorithm to solve the DLP in P time. This is represented as the BQP (bounded-error quantum polynomial time) category in the above diagram.

Further reading:


#139

I’m going to challenge this claim because the evidence of a blog post (which anyone can post and make false claims in) is not enough to convince me that IOTA is Quantum proof.

I googled “is IOTA quantum proof” and first thing that came up is this blog post:

So until there is solid evidence (e.g. academics who reviewed IOTA’s code and agree it’s quantum proof), I will challenge this claim.


#140

I’m going to challenge this claim because the evidence of a blog post (which anyone can post and make false claims in) is not enough to convince me that IOTA is Quantum proof.

It sounds like the community is struggling with semantics of this claim. In the blog post you linked it takes problem with the term Quantum proof.

However, the IOTA team has changed that to now say Quantum resistant and my goal was to understand what exactly they meant by the claim.

I focused on a difference in design philosophy, where IOTA has made compromises to their user experience in order to implement a one-time signature scheme and ensure that well understood quantum computer based attacks using Shor’s algorithm will not be a threat to the security of their protocol.

I can caveat by saying that in the event:

  • IOTA does not implement Winternitz signatures
  • It is found that another critical part of the IOTA protocol can be attacked by quantum computers
  • New quantum algorithms are found which can crack Winternitz signatures

Then the claim of qauntum resistance will no longer hold.

Given I haven’t seen evidence for any of these cases, I’ll continue to back the claim that IOTA is qauntum resistant.


#141

Isn’t this akin to claiming that Elon Musk landed on Mars because his SpaceX aircraft is being designed to land on Mars?


#142

I would say this really depends on your confidence in the science behind quantum computing. This post outlines the current state of the art in moving towards running implementations of Shor’s algorithm.

Given the possibility of a government possesing quantum computing power, or the chance we’ll reach a breakthrough in the next 5-10 years, then I think it’s a reasonable claim to say “We are on Mars, because Earth isn’t safe anymore”.


#143

Claim: Anthony Pompliano uses bots to grow his followers on Twitter

My stance: Back claim, 100 Cred

Sources:
Pierre Rochard’s tweet

Anthony Sassano’s tweet

Argument:

Assumptions:

There are certain behaviors that differentiate organic follower growth from bot/platform-automated growth.

One of the key behaviors of bots that are used to rapidly increase Twitter following is aggressive following/unfollowing.

The Next Web details this:

The trick is they follow hundreds, thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of Twitter users, in bulk – every day – making use of a range of tacky bots or automation tools found online, or via various scripts that tinker with the Twitter API, to mass-follow/unfollow other accounts.

Once they have followed all these users, they typically wait a few days or weeks, before unfollowing a similar volume (tens of thousands) of Twitter users, to make sure their account appears less bogus or spammy (more followers than accounts being followed).

The purpose here being to gain a follow back from the person they have followed. If they follow 50,000 accounts in one day, and only one percent follow them back, that’s still 500 new followers generated for their account with little, or no effort. Repeat this daily for months or even years, and you can see how they can quickly create an account with millions of followers.

Evidence
I analyzed Pomp’s Twitter activity from the months of December 2017 to April 2018 using Twitter data from SocialBlade.com.

Key to the graphs below:

  • In RED: Daily change in Pomp’s total followers
  • In BLUE: Daily change in the number of users Pomp is following
  • Circled in YELLOW: Instances where Pomp’s following count increased or decreased by the identical or nearly identical amount in consecutive days. We are making the assumption that an automated service or bot would show this identical follow/unfollow behavior.

Summary: From December 2017 to April 2018, there were a total of 13 instances of identical or nearly identical increases in following and drops in following, during consecutive-days.

Other considerations:

Twitter’s “shadowban” of crypto accounts in March 2018 may have also contributed to drops in Pomp’s following numbers. But that occurred in March 2018, and there is evidence of bot behavior outside those months.


#144

Claim: Sleeping naked cools the body and promotes weight loss because the body produces more brown fat.

Category: Popular Beliefs

My Stake: Challenge claim (50 CRED)

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2016/09/13/4-reasons-sleeping-naked-makes-you-healthier-and-wealthier/#4eb9c52a69b4
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/240759.php
https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/recent-breakthroughs-by-endocrinologist-andre-carpentier—a-novel-look-at-a-unique-tissue-brown-adipose-tissue-614656514.html
https://www.amerisleep.com/blog/regulate-body-temperature-during-sleep/

Argument / Evidence:

Assumptions:

  • Sleeping without clothes necessarily means the body will be cooler.
  • That sleeping temperatures reached when people sleep naked are low enough to “turn on” brown fat.
  • Long term effects of cooler temperature on brown fat creation, and body weight.

The problem with this claim lies in the fact that they make a leap of logic by suggesting that sleeping naked and weight loss is directly related. The intermediating factor appears to be cold body temperatures, as demonstrated by studies that exposed participants to cold for short durations, resulting in ‘brown fat “turning on” and burning fat as a fuel source directly.

The proposed mechanism seems to be valid:

Mitochondria of brown fat contain a protein that enables them to generate heat by burning fats directly. Indeed, when the body is exposed to cold, brown fat consumes a significant quantity of energy already stored in its cells as lipid droplets. That is what makes this tissue so unique and critical in fighting the cold.”

Dr. André C. Carpentier, from Universite de Sherbrooke, and team set out to determine how humans might be able to switch on the brown fat so that it uses up fat. They found that exposure to cold temperatures seems to be the best trigger.

These studies were conducted by subjecting participants to temperatures of (18°C), which is considered an optimal temperature for sleep, so it’s feasible the human body could maintain 8-hours of exposure to these temperatures that can trigger brown fat to turn on:


The problem with this claim is that there is no evidence that demonstrates that sleeping without clothing necessarily means you will stay cooler. While it’s possible that the wrong choice of material can inhibit temperature regulation by trapping too much heat, this would be true whether that was bedding material or clothing material.

There is also a question, about the long-term effectiveness of cold-exposure on brown fat as a calorie burning mechanism: As, Dr. Carpentier said to CTV news:

Status/Conclusion:

While studies show a temperature which is considered ideal for sleeping adults (60-67 F, 15-19 C) can “turn on” brown fat, which may lead to weight loss, there is no causal relationship between sleeping naked and weight loss. It is also unknown whether or not the effect of cold-exposure on brown fat, and the potential for weight loss, would continue over prolonged periods of time.


#145

damn. Pretty surprised that well known news sites (e.g. Forbes, Newswire, Medical News Today, etc.) all make this claim. This is awesome analysis. Good job.


#146

Claim: Tesla batteries require Congolese children slaving away in cobalt mines.
Congo supplies ~60% of the world’s cobalt.

Source: https://twitter.com/datarade/status/1104622394348433409

Category: Electric vehicles

My Stake: Challenge with 80 TruStake

My Argument / Evidence:

1. Cobalt and the Congo
It is true that the DRC supplies between 50 to 66% of the world’s cobalt (varies by year).


Cobalt mined from the DRC is considered a “conflict mineral,” meaning that it is extracted in a conflict zone and sold to finance war. It’s estimated that 20% of the cobalt mined in the DRC is done by hand (so-called ‘artisanal mining’). Many of the artisanal miners in the DRC are children. It is estimated that some 40,000 children worked in cobalt mines in 2014.

The supply chain for cobalt is young because the level of demand created by lithium-ion batteries is relatively new. As it matures and as demand and price continue to rise, more countries may increase production. Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt is a Chinese company often cited as the source conflict cobalt.

2. Cobalt Use in Batteries
Cobalt is used in Lithium-ion battery cathodes along with nickel, aluminium and manganese. Lithium-ion batteries are the most common type of battery to power electronic devices worldwide including cellphones, laptops etc. There are two main chemistry configuration types - NCA (nickel, cobalt, aluminum) and NMC (nickel, maganese, cobalt). The ratios of each mineral in the battery vary by use and manufacture. Tesla uses an NCA type battery which contain less cobalt than NMC configurations (most EVs use NMC). Furthermore, the trend in the material development world is towards higher-energy, lower-cobalt chemistries.

3. The Sources of Tesla’s Cobalt
Tesla’s batteries are produced in the Gigafactory in Sparks, NV in a partnership with Panasonic. Both Panasonic and Tesla write that they are committed to both ethically source cobalt and to reduce and eventually eliminate it use altogether. Panasonic sources most of its cobalt ethically from the Philippines.

Kenji Tamura, an executive in charge of Panasonic’s automotive battery business stated:

We have already cut down cobalt usage substantially…we are aiming to achieve zero usage in the near future, and development is underway.”

Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk has publicly stated the same.

In May 2018 Tesla filed a Conflict Minerals Report with the SEC in which they wrote:

The report with the SEC also states that Tesla is :

a member of the RMI, which is part of the overall supply chain responsibility organization Responsible Business Alliance (formerly EICC). RMI has expanded its scope beyond conflict minerals, and maintains a cobalt sub-team, of which Tesla is an active participant. This cobalt sub-team is actively working on several initiatives, including developing a due diligence program for cobalt sourcing and covering the risk areas included in the OECD Due Diligence Guidance.

The report also lists all the mining, smelting and refining plants the Tesla sources cobalt from that have passed RMI due diligence.

The supply chain for cobalt is complex and manufacturers often have a hard time tracking down of the source of the cobalt. Tesla had issues in mid 2018 because Panasonic was sourcing some from a Canadian company that purchased cobalt from a supplier/miner in Cuba. Although Tesla may have inadvertently been violating an embargo Cuba, it shows that a least some amount of Tesla’s cobalt is not coming from the Congo.

4. The Future
Cobalt is a relatively common and widely distributed mineral. In the past it was a byproduct of nickel, copper and silver mining. And since the boom in demand, many abandoned silver, and nickel mines have been reopened to mine cobalt. Because of the recent demand and the desire to source it ethically, the price per kg has skyrocketed. The high price is attracting new miners around the world. Including this Canadian town aptly named Cobalt, Canada. Venture firm a16z is investing in a company building software to scout potential cobalt mines.

In sum, although the DRC is currently the world’s biggest supplier of cobalt and 20% of their production includes child labor, there is little evidence that the cobalt in Tesla’s batteries comes from there. In fact, most evidence points to it coming from other sources, such the Philippines via Panasonic. To single out Tesla here is also misleading as all devices that use lithium-ion batteries (phones, laptops, etc) use cobalt and Tesla’s vehicles use less than all other EVs. And both Tesla and Panasonic plan to reduce cobalt to 0% in the future.


#147

Claim1: Tesla is made with Congolese child labor;

Claim 2: Congo supplies ~60% of the world’s cobalt.

My Stake: Back the second with 50 cred.

The United States Department of Interior US Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodities summary, this is true. The annual summary, for 1996 - 2018 is available, in PDF format (source).

@preethi, in the app a person addresses several claims in one, can users choose which part of the claim they want to challenge or support or is it all or none?


#148

Great question. Right now it’s all in one. So if a part of the claim is not true, you are encouraged to challenge the whole claim.


#149

Copy. I’ll do so next time around.


#150

Claim: Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day.

Source: https://qr.ae/TW75yJ

Category: Nutrition

My Stake: Back[100 Cred]

Background: The claim stands on the assumption that fasting for 16 hours a day and eating between the rest (12:00 noon to 8pm) benefits individuals. The author lists the various benefits and also provides sources(appreciated) that link the same e-journal publication lists. I decided to find alternate sources to support the claim.

Challenges:

  1. Most of the studies have been focused on people with obesity challenges and those working on weight loss.
  2. Depending on specific conditions, such as people having diabetes, fasting for long duration/skipping breakfast may not be a good option

My Evidences/Arguements"

  1. Weight Loss: In a study conducted for weight loss treatments with and without breakfast,

After the 12-wk treatment, baseline breakfast eaters lost 8.9 kg in the no-breakfast treatment and 6.2 kg in the breakfast treatment. Baseline breakfast skippers lost 7.7 kg in the breakfast treatment and 6.0 kg in the no-breakfast treatment.

suggests that it is the eating routine/habits rather than having or skipping breakfast that helps in weight loss.

  1. Insulin levels: A lot of articles such as this one back breakfast as the important meal since insulin sensitivity is higher in the morning and may risk metabolic functions or increase the chance of diabetes.

However, a study at Harvard on intermittent fasting(IF) states that:

Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat

i.e the longer an individual fasts, or waits for the first meal, the insulin level goes down.

Thus, breakfast is just another meal and not the most important meal.

OT: It’s funny how it never struck me that the term ‘breakfast’ actually stands for breaking the fast each day, until I read it in crystal clear words. Hence, technically, anyone’s first meal of the day is a breakfast, irrespective of the time.


#151

Claim: An apple has more sugar per gram than regular soda.

Source: Reddit

Category: Nutrition

My Stake: Back claim, 50 Cred

Assumptions:

  • Sodas and apples consumed in the US have the same sugar content as sodas and apples in other parts of the world.
  • The weight of an, on average, is roughly 70 - 100 grams (source).
  • The serving size for a soda is one can, 12 ounces.

My Argument/Evidence:

Step 1

I selected the top three brands of sodas (source) and apples (source) consumed in the United States and noted the sugar content, in grams, per serving for each:

Calculation for the average amount of sugar in a 12 oz of soda

  • Coca Cola: 39g

  • Pepsi: 39g

  • Mountain Dew: 41g

  • Average grams of sugar in each can: ~39 grams per 12 ounces (source)

    39g + 39g + 41g/3 = ~39

Calculation for the average amount of sugar, in grams, of an apple

  • Gala 17g (source)

  • Red Delicious 10g (source)

  • Fuji: 12.7g (source)

  • Average sugar amount of sugar 13.2g

    17g + 10g + 12.7/3 = 13.2

Step 2
Average amount of grams of sugar per gram of soda:

  • 1 ounce = 28.3495g

  • 12 ounces = 1 serving of soda

  • 12 ounces of soda * 28.3495 grams = 340.194g

  • 39g/340.194 = 0.11

Step 3
Average amount of sugar (13.2g) per gram of each gram of an apple average (70g - 100g):

  • 13.2g/70g (apple weight) = .19g

  • 13.2g/80g (apple weight) = .16.5g

  • 13.2g/90g (apple weight) = .15g

  • 13.2g/100g (apple weight) = .13g

Step 4

Comparison of amount of sugar, in an apple, per gram to soda.

Summary

The amount of sugar in an average size apple is 13.2g; for a 12oz can of soda, 39g. Cleary, a serving of soda contains more sugar than an apple. However, gram for gram, an apple contains more sugar than a can of soda.


#152

Whoa, that’s crazy!

Are both the sugars in apples and soda the same? My understanding is fruit sugar is a combination of fructose, sucrose, and glucose (Source) whereas sodas sugars are generally high fructose corn syrup (Source, ingredients in Pepsi). These different sugar types are processed differently by the body. Fructose doesn’t typically spike blood sugar levels where are the others can.

Seems like it’s like comparing apples to oranges, similar but not the same…


#153

Correct. Fiber aids digestion and slows down the absorption. The sugar in fruit compared to that of that in soda is different. Since the claim just says sugar and not what type, I based my research on that. I’ve heard people say things like if an apple has more sugar, gram for gram, I can just drink the soda. Claims of this nature, in my opinion, often lead to faulty logic.

If the claim was that, per gram, an apple has more sugar than soda; therefore, a serving of soda is a healthier choice than an apple, I could see the logic in noting the type of sugar, how spikes in blood sugar levels affect the body, if done consistently over a period of time, etc.


#154

Claim: The average person burns more calories sleeping 8 hours (600) than running 4 miles (400).

Source: https://twitter.com/anymanfitness/status/1105254919223824384?s=19
On real world claims slack channel by @priyatham

Category: Fitness and Health

My Stake: Back with 100 TruStake

My Argument/Evidence:
I didn’t want to trust any random website based calculator. Took the formula for calories burnt during sleeping and running.

Wrote a basic python script to average the calculations over 1000 random cases.

Result: Average calories burned while sleeping for 8 hours: 517.38 calories

Average calories burned for men while running 4 miles at (6mph): 406.84 calories

Average calories burned for women wwhile running 4 miles at (6mph): 296.16 calories

Can share the python file if required.


#155

Claim: Changes in atmospheric pressure can cause migraines

Category: Health

My Stake: Back claim, 100 Cred

Assumptions:

  1. We’re defining migraines according to the American Migraine Foundation (AMF) definition: “unprovoked headache lasting 4-72 hours, severe enough to markedly restrict or even prohibit routine daily activity and accompanied by nausea or light/ sound sensitivity.”
  2. We’re defining atmospheric pressure change as a drop in pressure based on a baseline of 1013 Hectopascals (hPa), a widely accepted unit of measurement for air pressure.

Caveats

Someone prone to headaches will be instigated to have a headache from even the slightest things. We’re talking about whether changes in atmospheric pressure can evoke headaches/migraines in normal, healthy adults.

My Argument:

1. Migraines don’t just arise from one place

A National Headache Foundation survey asked headache sufferers to review and rank a list of 16 potential triggers. People often have more than one type of trigger for their headaches.

Weather or barometric pressure changes: 73%

Intense odors: 64%

Bright or flickering lights: 59%

Smoke: 53%

Extreme heat or cold: 38%

Altitude changes: 31%

High winds: 18%

Source

Weather/barometric pressure changes is number one on the list. But causation is not correlation.

2. Clinical studies are mixed

Studies are mixed on whether there is a direct link between changes in weather and the propensity for migraine flare-ups.

2 studies that said yes there was a link

A study from the University of Toronto found that muscle pain and migraines were associated with changes in atmospheric pressure. 11 patients were asked to report their pain levels on a visual analog scale (VAS) every hour for 14 days. This VAS data was collected using portable data loggers which also recorded temperature, atmospheric pressure and relative humidity. Source

A Japanese study from the Tokai University School of Medicine explored this further and found small decreases in atmospheric pressure induced migraine attacks. The study measured standard atmospheric pressure at 1013 hPa. Between 1003–1007 (a drop of 6-10hPa) patients reported migraine symptoms noting a positive correlation between drop in atmospheric pressure and onset of headaches. Source

Other studies show no link at all between weather changes and migraines.

A study in Vienna, Austria study of 238 patients found that the influence of weather factors on migraines was small and questionable and explains why. Source

"A migraine trigger is a factor that temporarily increases the chances that a person with migraine will experience a migraine attack. Any single person may have a number of migraine triggers, so even if weather changes are one of them, many of that person’s migraine attacks may be caused by other triggers.

In addition, often a single trigger—like a specific weather change—may not be able to start a migraine attack by itself unless the weather change is very dramatic. The weather change may only cause a migraine attack if it is able to add together with another trigger, like a meal containing monosodium glutamate or a glass of red wine."

Conclusion:

So, can changes in atmospheric pressure cause migraine headaches? It appears that yes they can. However, there is more to this story than just weather.

Many studies just focus on atmospheric pressure but as mentioned by the National Headache Foundation survey, there are 16+ documented triggers for migraines.

Out of these triggers, yes, weather was a top ranked trigger. However, there were others like diet, stress, odor, light, smoke, hot/cold temperatures, and even wind. This also begs the question of what other triggers are at work that people may not be aware of as an compounding factor.