# Thread: Why Science is so Hard to Believe

1. Originally Posted by ygolo

Seriously, this video, literally and in particular has been haunting me for YEARS now and is one of the things which I cannot stand. It is so plausible and so very easy to get wrong.

I swear the double slit experiment is one of the worst offenders for getting people to peddle around nonsense about the observer effect and some metaphysical gymnastics about how consciousness actually creates reality and you end up with people saying lots and lots of words which they don't even understand but are entirely convinced that they do. Even the name "observer effect" is a poor choice of words which we are now stuck with because it is so ubiquitous, but it is actually interpreted wrong most of the time, because it is not even about the observer, it is about the effect and it has been shown by experiments that consciousness is not required in the measurement but people regularly flout this over and over and have been doing so for years. I've fought against this very same video probably hundreds of times to no avail.

2. Originally Posted by ygolo
I don't know what you mean by "garden variety", But we study the thermodynamics of open systems all the time. There is very little of use that is not an open system. Even things we idealize as closed, often have leaks that allow matter to cross our boundaries.

The main concept of relevance is Gibbs Free energy. The thermodynamic basis of life is a process known as Free Energy Transduction.

Although accounting schemes vary, the one I like to use is the following:
G=T*S-P*V+sum(mu*N)

G is the free energy (and like many thermodynamic potentials, the zero point is arbitrary). T is the temperature of the environment, S is the entropy of the system, P is the pressure of the environment, V is the volume of the system, mu is the chemical potential of particles in the system, N the number of such particles.

The main trick left is to assume a closed "universe"*, where the universe is the system and the environment together. The overall free energy of the universe should not go up...this is how we check the second law of thermodynamics in open systems.

*Although there may be some question as to weather what we currently call the "universe" is open or closed, the same trick of accounting (perhaps we have to call it the multiverse now?) nevertheless has served us well.

EDIT: In retrospect, this post was a bit nit-picky. But I've heard the open system thing so often, that I believe that there is a wide misconception that open systems don't follow the second law of thermodynamics (or I have trained myself very incorrectly).
'Tisn't that open systems don't follow the second law. But the treatment of entropy is different than in idealized closed systems, as matter can enter and leave the system.
(Animals eat and shit.)

3. Need to buy some books on science.....really shouldn't have got kicked out of secondary.

4. Wow. It's amazing how much people get bent out of shape over a title. I'm sure many if the great discoveries were not by people claiming to be scientists or any special status and yet their work is now part of the field of science as we view it today.

Perhaps if the people who want to understand were given to tools to ask the right questions and the scientists didn't respond with vitriol or patronising tones this could get somewhere.

Personally, like many, I have little idea how a supercharger or turbo works in my car. I do, however, know enough to expect turbo lag and a boost to acceleration. I could go in deeper and find out the whys and wherefores of the increased pressure, so on and so forth but for my purposes that would be a side line. I would, however, baulk at any slop eyed bunny who tried to sell me a car with one and told me I'm too stupid to get it so just take it on trust that it's faster. No test drive, no explanation, just pony up the cash and shut up.

Sorry but if I'm giving money to it then I expect to see some return on that investment and sometimes I want to know why it cost ten million to develop a new material for my car and what effect it has. Call me crazy but I have an inherent desire to call bullshit of people who seem to be talking bullshit. I can only ever operate with the information I have to hand at that point in time.

Some of the approaches in here would be like a guy walks up to a girl and says "do you come here often?" only to get slapped to the ground and stamped on whilst she yells "IF YOU WERE F*ING INTERESTED YOUR HAVE DONE YOUR RESEARCH AND WOULD KNOW ALREADY!".

Perhaps the position is validated by a group jaded at failed attempts to communicate but how is that then fair, if we are to cut them slack for being more knowledgeable than we, for them to rage at anyone who asks a question or doesn't understand the jargon?

I wonder what freakish elements of nature combined to make some scientists want to teach? Man they must be tapped on the head or something.

5. Originally Posted by ygolo
To be frank, I feel like you are ignoring the more substantive aspects of what I post, and focusing on responses that I think everyone would agree with. Is this "watering down"?
-_- .. I certainly wasn't trying to water down your points, I just don't see how your personal experiences outweigh mine.. nor was I offended by them at all, but if you're thinking that my viewpoint on the topic is just wishy-washy stuff 'everyone would agree with' then that's cool too. I don't understand why I feel like I'm running in circles saying 'Yeah, got cha, I've seen that before, but I STILL think this... Oh, sure, that's cool, let's pawn my stance off as PC stuff. Sure. I'm too tired to try throwing a tiny hint of optimism in anymore between people whining that they're in science, and people whining that their stuff isn't popular as if science ever ever was in the first place..' I definitely DO like you, to clarify that subject, and I DO empathize with where you are coming from.

Also, I looked through rawfoodsos.com, and I find it hard to categorize this as a science blog. She mentions a lot of studies, but does little to explain them. There is a clear animal product advocate bias towards her posts (not that she's wrong). She seems to know her science, and does some rather interesting self experimentation. Nevertheless, I'm not sure this is devoid of the problems I have with what people want in science explanation.
Final China Study Response (HTML Version) | Raw Food SOS I fail to see how this is NOT explaining a study. Clearly she is writing a critique, but at least she bothers to explain precisely each detail as she goes along as they are.

And she doesn't advocate for animal products, btw. She's called rawfoodsos because she's mostly raw vegan but listened to a bunch of garbage online and got herself super sick because it sounded science-y and wants others to avoid that. Also, it's a *blog*. It isn't meant to be a super academic device of objective analysis, she has an agenda to find science-based studies in nutrition and de-bunk myths people cling to (The China Study is the founding study for many BS diets that exist now), she just happens to do this for a hobby take it or leave it. But her style of writing and the interest she takes in analyzing studies is what I'm interested in. The neat summaries, the categorizing, the break down being digestible and linked and making sense to someone. She translates raw data into something someone can understand. Her technique is what I'm going after. It isn't that I think this is end-all-save-all science. But I think that making information more accessible whenever possible to people will help massively bridge the gaps in communication. And I think that scientists can learn from idiots like Food Babe and genuine-hearted advocates like rawfoodsos. Instead of creating a space of invitation, and warmth, and nurturing of others, scientists are simply all over the place in how to deal with the public when it comes to their profession and how to create windows in. Food Babe uses simple fear-mongering tactics. And like it or not, if scientists don't create a space of comfort for people to retreat away from that fear mongering, it doesn't matter how many facts they throw out there, the fear will take over.

That's my opinion on the topic. It isn't an all-encompassing one, but it also doesn't invalidate the genuine concerns scientists have and the obstacles they deal with. I'm sorry my responses were sort of dismissive of your evidence and experiences, but that's because my focus is not there to figure out WHY there is a disconnect. I know it's there, and it's clear that science is hard to understand because I'm working in that field and trying to delve ever deeper as I go through life. But I'm not looking for empathizing with people I already empathize with. I'm discussing a possible avenue of action that does something about the situation.

And at the end of the day, if doctors can find ways to make people understand some of the complex shit they have to know by heart if only because it's absolutely required, then I know other scientists can follow suit.. and I also think they'd benefit from doing so despite frustrations.

6. @kyuuei
Again, I agree with the fact that people can improve how they communicate their work. There is no dispute from me on thus matter, and I think most scientists agree and want to communicate well. There is no argument on that.

The gripe is that we don't want to sacrifice our integrity in this process. That's what I'm getting at. That is the point I think is not getting through.

Taking a grant to do research to obtain a particular result from a study is unethical. Backing up a particular philosophy as an aim of doing research is unethical.

I also think, giving BS budget and time estimates is unethical. But in a lowest bid wins world, that strategy often works.

As for rawfood SOS. The China study response is fairly atypical of that blog as it's meant as a response to Campbell. It is indeed full of explanations, but because of that, it is also signicantly more difficult to read than the remainder of her blog.

And that is another point. There are different audiences. Trying to write a one size fits all work can lead to something that serves no audience.

As a scientist, I want to know when I read something:
1) What are the main findings and how does it relate to my work?
2) How can I or a colleague I know reproduce the findings?
3) What are the assumptions the authors are making, and how are they justifying them?

As a lay person, I want to know:
1) What is the significance of the findings to my daily life, beliefs, or pocket book?
2) Is there anything cool to think about that comes from the findings?

The same piece of writing is not going to serve both purposes well.

This is true of all things I've encountered. Buisness writing for the general public does not resemble business writing for investors doing due diligence. Most of the stuff on this forum would sound like jargon filled psychobable to the uninitiated. Hell, even when my little brother talked about pokemon, I had no clue what he was saying. Before I acclimated to US, most of the collequalisms sounded like absolute nonsense.

Scientists are nowhere near the worst offenders in being abstruse. Just listen to an American college student with the ears of a foreigner.

The point is if you want to understand something aimed at a particular audience, you need to make some effort to become part of that audience.

There is already plenty of material aimed at lay audiences. This material hooks kids and adults alike.

What we're trying to elucidate here is very subtle. It is put mote succinctly, a clash of cultures and values.

@Xander
Being a scientist requires no special status. It only requires that you do science.

7. Originally Posted by ygolo
@Xander
Being a scientist requires no special status. It only requires that you do science.
I relate it to engineers. People have a tendency to call anyone who can operate a mill or a lathe an engineer. I've heard plumbers referred to as engineers. Certainly doesn't cover the view of an engineer as a highly qualified problem solver. However there are institutions to ratify you as an engineer and they're getting quite generous.

The point I'm trying to make about scientists though us that the views expressed in this thread seem to be putting scientists on a pedestal. Claims made that modern man owes everything to science as if there's nothing else which drives forward progress. Science has its uses and it's place but it is not the objective, just a tool being used to achieve the objective and not the only tool either. So if I'm looking for a tool and I have a spanner and some kind of multi toothed wrench with built in spirit level, electronic assist and so on, it's great if I know what the fangled whatsit does or I know what I'm off to work on but if I just want a tool to help me forge ahead then I'll pick up the one I know how to work.

So basically for maximum progress the tools delivered by science really need to be usable. Sure it's a pain in the ass but if all your scientists are sat in a corner playing with stuff to make the world rotate faster then who's operating the new plasma car? I really hope it's someone who knows science but if it is then why aren't they over with the other scientists?

This stuff just keeps looping and looping... You could require the majority to learn how to speak your lingo, true. We could all be taught Swahili in school but is that a sensible approach?

8. @Xander
Is art just a tool? Is poetry just a tool?

This the clash of cultures and values I'm talking about. Some people value things in itself. Others balk at something not being useful for their own purposes. Just because what someone does is not useful to you, doesn't mean it has no value for others.

Generally speaking, few people like thinking of their work as "just a tool".

With that said, science has been very useful. It's not responsible for all progress, though. That claim is ridiculous. But a great deal of what we used have come from people trying to understand basic things.

As for the Swahili comment, it's a great analogy. You don't need to learn Swahili, but if you want to appreciate it you do. Simple as that.

Yes, it would benefit Swahili speakers to speak English also to get around in the world. Nobody would dispute that. However, forcing all Swahili speakers to speak English instead would go a long way towards destroying Swahili culture.

Different audiences, different material. That's it.

9. Originally Posted by ygolo
@Xander
Is art just a tool? Is poetry just a tool?

This the clash of cultures and values I'm talking about. Some people value things in itself. Others balk at something not being useful for their own purposes. Just because what someone does is not useful to you, doesn't mean it has no value for others.

Generally speaking, few people like thinking of their work as "just a tool".
I'm a firm believer in the thinking that you get more cohesive results if everyone knows how they contribute to the bottom line and can direct their efforts towards it.

Use whatever word suits your person, tool us mine... Gerroff and find yer own :P
Originally Posted by ygolo
With that said, science has been very useful. It's not responsible for all progress, though. That claim is ridiculous. But a great deal of what we used have come from people trying to understand basic things.

As for the Swahili comment, it's a great analogy. You don't need to learn Swahili, but if you want to appreciate it you do. Simple as that.

Yes, it would benefit Swahili speakers to speak English also to get around in the world. Nobody would dispute that. However, forcing all Swahili speakers to speak English instead would go a long way towards destroying Swahili culture.

Different audiences, different material. That's it.
True and agreed, however were the swahili person to expect to obtain money for something they would not explain in English from an English speaking person, it would take a noble individual to learn a foreign language to give money away.

I don't see why the prior argument took so long, at some point the knowledge and research has to leave the scientific community. At this point the information has to be decoded and deciphered. Personally I would not like to think that the people performing this process were any less qualified than those who did the work in case it's value is destroyed in the process. Surely all we're talking about is who gets the job, when it happens and it's relative importance?

10. Originally Posted by Xander
I'm a firm believer in the thinking that you get more cohesive results if everyone knows how they contribute to the bottom line and can direct their efforts towards it.

Use whatever word suits your person, tool us mine... Gerroff and find yer own :P

True and agreed, however were the swahili person to expect to obtain money for something they would not explain in English from an English speaking person, it would take a noble individual to learn a foreign language to give money away.

I don't see why the prior argument took so long, at some point the knowledge and research has to leave the scientific community. At this point the information has to be decoded and deciphered. Personally I would not like to think that the people performing this process were any less qualified than those who did the work in case it's value is destroyed in the process. Surely all we're talking about is who gets the job, when it happens and it's relative importance?
The Dr Quantum video that ygolo posted a bit ago is a prime example of how 'translation' ruins the information. That video has been ridiculously problematic for science. It seems easy to understand, but it's also easy to misunderstand and there's a huge propensity for people to do the latter (just look at the war going on in the comments of the video itself)

Getting people to think they understand is not good enough. Anyone who translates languages should know that most of the time they don't translate perfectly and there are 'cultural differences' which you have to be a native speaker to understand, and if you're not a native speaker, or at least incredibly fluent, then you have no business acting like one.

And even if you aren't fluent but still manage to get it right, you get it right for the wrong reasons (i.e. by accident)

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