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  1. #61
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Viewed in this manner: what other profession has to expend so much of their time and effort just convincing people to let them do their job?* If we could recover even half the time we spend on this, we would be much more productive.

    *perhaps politicians who must spend months campaigning for election
    Yeah I know. Back in the old days scientists just did stuff on their own. I mean do you think Newton would have given a crap about what people thought? He did what he had to do and here we are, regardless of who understood it at the time.

    IMO appealing to laymen is the disease, not the cure. It is slowly but surely killing science.

  2. #62
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles
    This is like saying the damn farmers don't do any work just because you don't actually see them pick the food that gets packed into a can. It's an incredibly ungrateful way to look at things.
    Bad analogy because we can actually see the fruit of the farmers' labor. I'm not opposed to basic research; just don't force me to pay for it. Let private corps pay for it.
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

  3. #63
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    Bad analogy because we can actually see the fruit of the farmers' labor. I'm not opposed to basic research; just don't force me to pay for it. Let private corps pay for it.
    I guess you can't see your computer or the whole flipping internet or every bit of plastic that you own.

    Your entire existence in fact is likely thanks to the achievements of science. You can find it everywhere, but you are refusing to look because it is convenient for your misguided notions.

  4. #64
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles
    I guess you can't see your computer or the whole flipping internet or every bit of plastic that you own.
    That's applied research. Basic research is mostly ignored.
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

  5. #65
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    That's applied research. Basic research is mostly ignored.
    Basic research eventually becomes applied.

  6. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by grey_beard View Post
    If it's an open system, garden variety thermodynamics does not apply.
    Read up on Carnot cycles, OK?
    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).

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
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  7. #67

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    More on topic:

    I struggle with this a lot. On one hand, I agree with @sprinkles that if people aren't willing to put in a minimum effort to understand things, they may be a lost cause. But on the other hand, like @kyuuei that significant effort needs to be expended to be make material accessible.

    @Coriolis is perhaps speaking from the most experience, as I believe most of the rest of us are either grad students, medical professionals, or engineers (or some combination of these things).

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield
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  8. #68
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    More on topic:

    I struggle with this a lot. On one hand, I agree with @sprinkles that if people aren't willing to put in a minimum effort to understand things, they may be a lost cause. But on the other hand, like @kyuuei that significant effort needs to be expended to be make material accessible.

    @Coriolis is perhaps speaking from the most experience, as I believe most of the rest of us are either grad students, medical professionals, or engineers (or some combination of these things).
    I'm a high school dropout.

    I find this 'accessibility' to actually be a hindrance when I'm trying to do research, because since I don't go through 'official' channels I have to filter and search everything I learn for myself and it gets to be a pain in the ass when so much material appears to be only for idle entertainment value and is not verbose enough for me to get the working understanding which I desire.

    Basically in theory information is a giant pool and it's being murked up by people who speak much yet say little. Kind of like how Google has pretty much trashed technical search results by making the 'verbatim' option not actually be verbatim (it isn't. try it out and see) so it is in effect interfering with my quest for knowledge by trying to be "accessible" to goldfish apparently.

  9. #69
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles View Post
    The way I look at it, science is like being an auto mechanic. Or a gourmet chef, or a brain surgeon. They are not obligated to make you understand what is going on, even if they explain it though, that doesn't mean you understand it. There is a difference.
    It really DOES though. I DO understand. Not to the depth of an expert.. but when I dance, it is only THEN I realize how hard the job of a dancer really is. When a chef tells me "Oh, actually, you use this certain seasoning on these meats for a reason, the chemicals act differently with them." I may not break down all of those chemical processes, but I DO understand better and it makes me appreciate the work that went into the meal. When my mechanic tells me, "Yeah, that whirring noise that sounds like a plane taking off? Your bearings are messed up, and they're rotating, and making that noise when they do.. That's why you only hear it when you're driving." That makes SENSE. There is a method to the madness. I don't have to know all of the things about cars ever to now be able to identify when that happens again in subsequent cars thanks to the knowledge he passed onto me. I'm NOT a mechanic.. but I have lately been able to diagnose when something is wrong with my car and what it might be sheerly from people taking time to explain it to me barney style in a way that's really just impossible to be self-taught on the spot the same way. It took him 10 seconds what would have taken me hours to read about on google. There IS power in sharing your knowledge with others.

    If my mechanic just simply said, "Oh, it's too complex, you wouldn't understand." I'd never go to that sucker again.

    And I AM required to understand it--To an Extent. I cannot read car manuals and take my car apart and hope I can put it back together again in time for work. I have 12 hours of nursing knowledge every day shoved into my head, on top of all the financial stuff I have to learn, on top of all the stuff I have to learn about all the other things I really need.. I CANNOT learn about cars right now without burning myself out. But. I'd be blindly driving a literal death machine right now if I didn't try to take the time to understand the basics when an opportunity presents itself to me -- and be able to identify when a mechanic did a BAD job on my car that made it dangerous to drive. I wouldn't have known that At All if other mechanics hadn't been that snobby and shady and took the time to be transparent about their work. The mechanic MADE the opportunity for me.. and since I took it, I'm better off. I'm sure he has plenty of people that say "Hey, I don't tell you how to make a dress, don't tell me how you fix my car." But I'm so glad he didn't get this jaded and just give up by the time I came along.

    Scientists aren't magically exempt from these principles. I'll give you that chemists and physics guys get a sort of pass.. no one understands that shit. @ygolo .. But When your science-based work is on, say, health .. aka people? .. A big part of that is teaching it to others. Not every scientist EVER. But as an organization, yeah, obligation rests in translating one's work. A major part of it. So no, I don't buy that for a second. And I know how frustrating it can be to teach complex concepts to people who genuinely will not understand it. It's not an excuse to pawn people off.

    In my opinion it is not scientists job top fix all the shortcomings of the world. And what people are doing ARE their shortcomings. They're acting like effing babies essentially and nobody should have to put up with that.
    Clearly you're in a position where you're pretty frustrated about this topic already, and that's definitely how you see all of society. But a chef could easily tell you that you're ignorant too. Or a mechanic. Everyone cannot dedicate their lives to science.. or learning aspects of it. Things need translating still. Information needs to be accessed still. And science is more important than ever when we've got an age of information + TONS of blatant lies in all kinds of forms existing everywhere. Making science more accessible is a good thing for both scientists and the general public. And the general public can't do it. There's only one side that truly can make it happen. They can help though.

    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    if people aren't willing to put in a minimum effort to understand things, they may be a lost cause. But on the other hand, like kyuuei that significant effort needs to be expended to be make material accessible.
    It really wouldn't take a grand crazy overhaul to create a website that just translated things. People can translate their own research. Other scientists can up-and-down vote things, and the general public can have up-and-down votes separately. Not every little thing ever has be put up there.. but letting people SEE what motivates the decisions doctors make, the decisions farmers make for their crops, the decisions geologists make and such and such. It's important. And it can create motivation where none existed. How many people might go actually TRY to educate themselves when the information actually exists?

    One of the number one issues with medication errors, and surgeries, and stuff like that is people use too many 'big words' and don't just take a second to translate medical lingo. They say "don't eat grapefruit" but never WHY. People don't understand, and they mean well and fuck up anyways. Or the doctors mean well, but failed to actually inform the patient because turns out they were too embarrassed to say they're illiterate and just signed papers at random. The extra moment taken for others was wasted, and major long-term frowny-faces resulted.. and the doctors and medical professionals are no better off for it. They look like monsters to that person forever. All over prestige or assumptions.

    If I've learned anything from working in the public, and trust me I've met what feel like lost causes too, it is that the more overwhelming and prestigious and haughty the attitudes about a thing are, the more intimidating and 'You'll never get it' self-fulfilling prophecy it becomes. Anyone just needs to look at body-image issues in women to see that people telling you something over and over through images and words is a powerful demotivational tool.

    If you want to see morons, you'll see them. Absolutely, all day long. But that doesn't mean non-smart people don't desire to learn.
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  10. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyuuei View Post
    It really DOES though. I DO understand. Not to the depth of an expert.. but when I dance, it is only THEN I realize how hard the job of a dancer really is. When a chef tells me "Oh, actually, you use this certain seasoning on these meats for a reason, the chemicals act differently with them." I may not break down all of those chemical processes, but I DO understand better and it makes me appreciate the work that went into the meal. When my mechanic tells me, "Yeah, that whirring noise that sounds like a plane taking off? Your bearings are messed up, and they're rotating, and making that noise when they do.. That's why you only hear it when you're driving." That makes SENSE. There is a method to the madness. I don't have to know all of the things about cars ever to now be able to identify when that happens again in subsequent cars thanks to the knowledge he passed onto me. I'm NOT a mechanic.. but I have lately been able to diagnose when something is wrong with my car and what it might be sheerly from people taking time to explain it to me barney style in a way that's really just impossible to be self-taught on the spot the same way. It took him 10 seconds what would have taken me hours to read about on google. There IS power in sharing your knowledge with others.

    If my mechanic just simply said, "Oh, it's too complex, you wouldn't understand." I'd never go to that sucker again.

    And I AM required to understand it--To an Extent. I cannot read car manuals and take my car apart and hope I can put it back together again in time for work. I have 12 hours of nursing knowledge every day shoved into my head, on top of all the financial stuff I have to learn, on top of all the stuff I have to learn about all the other things I really need.. I CANNOT learn about cars right now without burning myself out. But. I'd be blindly driving a literal death machine right now if I didn't try to take the time to understand the basics when an opportunity presents itself to me -- and be able to identify when a mechanic did a BAD job on my car that made it dangerous to drive. I wouldn't have known that At All if other mechanics hadn't been that snobby and shady and took the time to be transparent about their work. The mechanic MADE the opportunity for me.. and since I took it, I'm better off. I'm sure he has plenty of people that say "Hey, I don't tell you how to make a dress, don't tell me how you fix my car." But I'm so glad he didn't get this jaded and just give up by the time I came along.

    Scientists aren't magically exempt from these principles. I'll give you that chemists and physics guys get a sort of pass.. no one understands that shit. @ygolo .. But When your science-based work is on, say, health .. aka people? .. A big part of that is teaching it to others. Not every scientist EVER. But as an organization, yeah, obligation rests in translating one's work. A major part of it. So no, I don't buy that for a second. And I know how frustrating it can be to teach complex concepts to people who genuinely will not understand it. It's not an excuse to pawn people off.



    Clearly you're in a position where you're pretty frustrated about this topic already, and that's definitely how you see all of society. But a chef could easily tell you that you're ignorant too. Or a mechanic. Everyone cannot dedicate their lives to science.. or learning aspects of it. Things need translating still. Information needs to be accessed still. And science is more important than ever when we've got an age of information + TONS of blatant lies in all kinds of forms existing everywhere. Making science more accessible is a good thing for both scientists and the general public. And the general public can't do it. There's only one side that truly can make it happen. They can help though.



    It really wouldn't take a grand crazy overhaul to create a website that just translated things. People can translate their own research. Other scientists can up-and-down vote things, and the general public can have up-and-down votes separately. Not every little thing ever has be put up there.. but letting people SEE what motivates the decisions doctors make, the decisions farmers make for their crops, the decisions geologists make and such and such. It's important. And it can create motivation where none existed. How many people might go actually TRY to educate themselves when the information actually exists?

    If I've learned anything from working in the public, and trust me I've met what feel like lost causes too, it is that the more overwhelming and prestigious and haughty the attitudes about a thing are, the more intimidating and 'You'll never get it' self-fulfilling prophecy it becomes. Anyone just needs to look at body-image issues in women to see that people telling you something over and over through images and words is a powerful demotivational tool.

    If you want to see morons, you'll see them. Absolutely, all day long. But that doesn't mean non-smart people don't desire to learn.
    I usually try pretty hard to make sure people understand what I am saying. I don't think physicists or chemists should get a pass on that. Nevertheless, there are minimums, given the short amount of time of interactions that we could expect.

    If you went to a mechanic, and never asked even a single question other than the "how much will it cost" and "when will it be done." When the mechanic gives you that plus an explanation, but you roll your eyes at the explanation would you fault the mechanic for discontinuing? (I know you ask questions, but I was just giving an example).

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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