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  1. #11
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    Pervasive misuse of scientific terms by laymen is also a great source of misunderstanding. The common creationist argument that "evolution is just a theory" is example numero uno...
    Or saying evolution violates thermodynamics. I still see people tricked by that one and it ticks me off. It sucked people in because it sounds "scientific" but ironically that statement is basically hanging a sign around their own neck which says "I don't know the first thing about thermodynamics"

  2. #12
    The Typing Tabby grey_beard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard View Post
    While I realize that the thread I had made previously on a related matter is still active, it was made more than 3 weeks ago. I feel that this article deserves it's own thread. It's a long article, but I find it to be very well written, insightful, and worth the read.

    Why Science is so Hard to Believe

    Excerpts from the article, though the first one I think captures it all, and is very interesting:





    I think this article captures the essence of the issue here, and it's that science denial stems from the availability of information to everyone. I sort of touched on this in @EJCC's blog earlier today, and she did as well, and it's idea of experts and laymen; who causes the problem, do they both, and what can be done to mitigate it. It seems like there isn't any offering of a solution here. Nevertheless, it shows what's going on, and that it's actually quite complex. I wonder what others here feel would be a good solution to managing this problem in this modern era with it's overflowing information availability.

    On a personal level (and to be perfectly honest, I am not proud to admit this, but I feel I must for the purposes of the thread), I have experienced the effect of using science to reinforce my world views. For several years when I was around 16-20 (2005-2009), I was anti-fluoride, anti-vaccine, and partially anti-GMO. A lot came from influence from my mother, and I parroted it back. But I found I wanted those things to be true, so I found "evidence" (it wasn't really of course) to support it. It wasn't until I started to stay more alert and critical instead of starting from idealism that I was forced to admit that I was looking at the wrong evidence, and finding things to support my views. It wasn't fun, admitting I was doing it wrong, and was wrong. I still find myself wresting with this at times. I also still have an internal fear reaction whenever I get a vaccine, despite rationally knowing it's good. It's very important though for us to run against what our guts tell us with science when faced with credible evidence, because a lot of the time (as the article points out) science isn't intuitive, and even the deepest education of it can't prevent one from slipping.

    Discuss.
    The problem is threefold.

    1a) Half the population has an IQ under 100. Even of those to the right of the dividing line, there is no guarantee that they are honest, either due to their wishes, or ulterior motives.
    These include marketing, power over other people, and career advancement (publish or perish).
    1b) To make it worse, if there are competing interests each often tells only part of the story to gain adherents (smoking does not CAUSE cancer as there are smokers who have lived to 100 while being cancer free; but it does greatly increase the odds; but those odds are not tremendous to begin with: in the UK, 1/14 people will die of lung cancer; 86% of *those* are smokers. So smoking all your life means you have a 12% chance of dying of lung cancer: a lousy way to die, but not a certainty).
    2) Knowledge may grow over time, but it does not propagate evenly, and there is no "garbage collection" feature.
    3) Many things presented as "absolute fact" by experts on the grounds that they are "the latest research" turn out to be baldfaced lies, or jumping the gun on phenomena not yet understood (see #1 and such things as the USDA grain-based food pyramid and Anthropogenic Global Warming).
    Last edited by grey_beard; 02-27-2015 at 05:19 PM. Reason: fixed to accomodate some smart-ass or other
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  3. #13
    The Typing Tabby grey_beard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles View Post
    Or saying evolution violates thermodynamics. I still see people tricked by that one and it ticks me off. It sucked people in because it sounds "scientific" but ironically that statement is basically hanging a sign around their own neck which says "I don't know the first thing about thermodynamics"
    In such cases I like to call it the "First Law of Thermal Documents"...
    I once heard Murray Gell-Mann mention this after an invited talk, he at least had the grace to point out (about the people making such claims) that they didn't know organisms are *open* systems...
    "Love never needs time. But friendship always needs time. More and more and more time, up to long past midnight." -- The Crime of Captain Gahagan

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  4. #14
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grey_beard View Post
    The problem is threefold.

    1a) Half the IQ has a population under 100. Even of those to the right of the dividing line, there is no guarantee that they are honest, either due to their wishes, or ulterior motives.
    What does that even mean, aside from "half the people are under the average intelligence of all the people?" It's inherent in the definition of the process, isn't it? Actually, that's not right on my part, it's the median:

    When current IQ tests are developed, the median raw score of the norming sample is defined as IQ 100 and scores each standard deviation (SD) up or down are defined as 15 IQ points greater or less,[2] although this was not always so historically. By this definition, approximately two-thirds of the population scores an IQ between 85 and 115, and about 5 percent of the population scores above 125.[3][4]
    Anyway, that's rather a side note. The question I'm left with asking is more this: "Is the scientific process something that can be understood and practiced even by people who are below an IQ100?" [and apparently 2/3 of the population is within 15 points on either side of 100, so... let's say "can people with an IQ85 still practice a scientific process?"] Where's the point where a certain level of intelligence is incapable of understanding the scientifice process of information weighting and evaluation? That could be below the 50% mark, it could be higher than the 50% mark.

    I do agree that a major part of the problem is that people are people. I know even wanting to be objective, I regularly have to remind myself to take a step back and reconsider. It's pretty natural for human beings to put together the way "something works" and then treat it as a fixed point on which to build other knowledge, and it can be uncomfortable and/or confusing to constantly look at something you thought was established and say, "Oh, that might not be right, let me reexamine that, then fix EVERYTHING ELSE that it was supporting." But that's the process is: If you come up with new information that doesn't seem to mesh, you explore it further to see if you need to change what you thought you knew or whether it can still mesh with what you thought you knew.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  5. #15
    The Green Jolly Robin H.
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    I think science is hard to believe for many because they do not understand the idea of accumulation, thresholds and critical points. It is hard to believe for example that the findings in quantum physics can occur without altering our perceptions of our Newtonian scale views because we have a hard time believing that there are limits and borders between thresholds, or critical points where things seem to change in surreal ways but which do not leak over.

    This to me is evidence of design...a border implies separation, and separation implies intelligent design. The idea of a chaos in its general form is absurd and if there is intelligence inside of us it can only be that there is also intelligence outside of us.

    The biggest obstacle of the modern person is understanding that there is such a thing as a non-living brain, which is order basically...we think that something is random, in truth nothing is random, our perception of random is the product of limitation, being limited to time, we age...but time is a derivative of a thing which we cannot exactly see or measure.

    Whether there is a god or not...that is not relevant. There is certainly, however, non-living thinking, the universe thinks, it feels but it is non-living thought and feeling. Of this, no one can deny and be considered logical.

    The universe is an ordered system, you see...for every action there is also a reaction, but how this plays out in a non-causal way is beyond us...again we are biased by this thing we experience as the passage of time which is arbitrary to us...but we cannot fathom how we suffer to it and therefore we become prejudice.

    The scientist is as biased as anyone in that he is limited by his lifespan and seeks to reconcile this with his work.

    It is hard for us to step out of our subjective state of limit based thought and see how there is no such thing as a finite amount, hence we call numbers which cannot be described in a finite way irrational, but is us who is irrational in thinking things are rational according to us since we are the inferior to the infinite.

    Hence, infinity is what is truly rational, and we are the irrational ones assuming that what exists is only what we can see.
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    Sayrah blew life into the spheres and they moved. From her wheel she weaved the names of people in to mystery.

  6. #16
    The Green Jolly Robin H.
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    Think of it this way....

    We define something as living by its carbon based parts and by its ability to reproduce...one is arbitrary and the other myopic. We know even non-living things reproduce but because we set limits to the nature of reproduction we assume it doesn't - a false assumptions because we know for a fact that star systems and galaxies do in fact reproduce.

    Similarly, we say that only living organisms can think, another false dichotomy, for we see that inanimatate objects also display a form of thought and logic based on the fact that they exhibit decision making capabilities but we chose to turn a blind eye to it.

    For example, the earth and its ecosystem engages in game theory based on the decisions and choices of its sub-parts (us)...the whether, markets, all make choices and decisions, probabilistic determinations, but we chose to live in a fantasy world and think that only living things can make choices...this is false..and as sacriligious to science as believing that painting your face white and doing a rain dance will make it rain.
    "i shut the door and in the morning
    it was open
    -the end"




    Olemn slammed his hammer and from the sparks on the metal of his anvil came the spheres of the heavens.

    Sayrah blew life into the spheres and they moved. From her wheel she weaved the names of people in to mystery.

  7. #17
    Lex Parsimoniae Xander's Avatar
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    I think the problem is reality is the everyday. The dopler effect can be demonstrated and still can confuse people. Microbiology, astro physics, quantum mechanics.... Much harder to exemplify.

    People believe what they see, smell, taste and touch... They're backwards that way.

    Mind you, doesn't explain the acceptance of a god.
    Isn't it time for a colourful metaphor?

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles View Post
    Or saying evolution violates thermodynamics. I still see people tricked by that one and it ticks me off. It sucked people in because it sounds "scientific" but ironically that statement is basically hanging a sign around their own neck which says "I don't know the first thing about thermodynamics"


    Never heard that one. That's also a problem: people accumulate just enough scientific knowledge to get themselves into trouble. It reminds me a lot of those "freemen-on-the-land" who use as much legal jargon as they can to obfuscate their rationale for not paying taxes, squatting in other people's homes, etc..


    EDIT: I decided to satiate my curiosity and google "evolution second law of thermodynamics" to find out precisely how "creation scientists" have determined that evolution violates the second law.

    Oh boy. The pseudo-scientific claptrap makes my head hurt. It's more akin to the freemen movement than I thought...
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  9. #19
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    What does that even mean, aside from "half the people are under the average intelligence of all the people?" It's inherent in the definition of the process, isn't it? Actually, that's not right on my part, it's the median:



    Anyway, that's rather a side note. The question I'm left with asking is more this: "Is the scientific process something that can be understood and practiced even by people who are below an IQ100?" [and apparently 2/3 of the population is within 15 points on either side of 100, so... let's say "can people with an IQ85 still practice a scientific process?"] Where's the point where a certain level of intelligence is incapable of understanding the scientifice process of information weighting and evaluation? That could be below the 50% mark, it could be higher than the 50% mark.

    I do agree that a major part of the problem is that people are people. I know even wanting to be objective, I regularly have to remind myself to take a step back and reconsider. It's pretty natural for human beings to put together the way "something works" and then treat it as a fixed point on which to build other knowledge, and it can be uncomfortable and/or confusing to constantly look at something you thought was established and say, "Oh, that might not be right, let me reexamine that, then fix EVERYTHING ELSE that it was supporting." But that's the process is: If you come up with new information that doesn't seem to mesh, you explore it further to see if you need to change what you thought you knew or whether it can still mesh with what you thought you knew.
    I think people of average or even a little below average intelligence could grasp science fine if they were placed in a conductive environment.

    It's not so much that science is difficult to understand, it's more that it simply takes a bit of focus to pick up the 'signal' through the 'noise'. It isn't that average people can't understand the signal, they just have a harder time filtering out the noise.

    It's like when I first thought Rubik's cubes were hard. The issue wasn't how complex the cube is - sure it has 400 whatever quintillion combinations but it's only ever in one of those combinations. In that respect it's like a jigsaw puzzle when you dump the pieces out of the box, and in fact a large jigsaw puzzle is probably many times more difficult than the Rubik's cube is. I learned that if I just clear my mind and get rid of the noise, it's not hard to understand. Once I figured it out I wanted to kick myself for how over complicated I'd been making it. One very simple principle allows you to arbitrarily move the pieces to wherever you want, with only a few caveats, so I'm not talking about 'solving' by memorized patterns - I can do anything I want to the cube. Solve the corners first, solve the edges first, solve corners on one half and edges on the other, make arbitrary patterns, etc. all just intuitively.

  10. #20
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grey_beard View Post
    In such cases I like to call it the "First Law of Thermal Documents"...
    I once heard Murray Gell-Mann mention this after an invited talk, he at least had the grace to point out (about the people making such claims) that they didn't know organisms are *open* systems...
    I've heard that excuse. The problem with it is that there are other open systems which would appear to violate thermodynamics by their reasoning - e.g. their refrigerators. Where is the outcry that refrigerators are a lie?

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