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  1. #71
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    @kyuuei

    If that's the kind of explanation you expect, it's already very much done. Hell, every issue of Pop Sci consists of that if that's what you expect.

    I personally expect more.

    Edit:
    And the stuff is out there. People either don't look, or they're too busy bitching and trolling when they could be researching.

  2. #72

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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," and the mechanic gives you that plus an explanation, but you roll your eyes at the explanation would you fault the mechanic for discontinuing? @kyuuei, I know you ask questions, but this was just an example.


    EDIT:To put it another way, the minimum is not knowledge or intelligence, but interest.

    EDIT:Weird double post upon editing.

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  3. #73
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    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," and the mechanic gives you that plus an explanation, but you roll your eyes at the explanation would you fault the mechanic for discontinuing? @kyuuei, I know you ask questions, but this was just an example.


    EDIT:To put it another way, the minimum is not knowledge or intelligence, but interest.

    EDIT:Weird double post upon editing.
    Additionally I don't understand this desire to be spoon fed everything which people have. Are we supposed to sit people down like babies or are we adults here? Do we need to lock up the bleach?

    And seriously, if some mechanic tells you some stuff about bearings and you don't know the difference between what could be made up bullshit that sounds plausible and an actual explanation, then nothing has actually been explained.

  4. #74
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    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.
    Poor physicists don't get a pass, that was definitely a joke. Engineers either. And unfortunately, their stuff is so complex it is quite difficult to break it down much farther and there's a way bigger learning gap there. But hey, a challenge is a challenge.. and people's lives rely on engineers and physicists many times.

    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).
    Absolutely I would. Professionalism is professionalism. Leave you attitudes at the door every night when you go home. If a doctor had people who always didn't listen to him (aka almost all of his clients), should he just say "Forget teaching people about their medication. Its written on the bottle, if they want the knowledge they can read it"? Not at all. It's unprofessional to not give people basic good information. If over 50% of the patients I have come across so far are druggies and junkies, should I just ignore a person just because they MUST be junkies to me because that's all I ever get? .. It's not fair at all, and it's a false assumption based on a narrow scope. If a soldier acted like that and said, "Forget trying to help these Iraqi people! If they look threatening to me I'm shooting them from now on!" would that be acceptable, even if every Iraqi he had tried to help until then was a terrorist too? It isn't like I originally asked a ton of questions.. I even learned what questions to ask from mechanics freely offering me information without asking much.
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  5. #75
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyuuei View Post
    Poor physicists don't get a pass, that was definitely a joke. Engineers either. And unfortunately, their stuff is so complex it is quite difficult to break it down much farther and there's a way bigger learning gap there. But hey, a challenge is a challenge.. and people's lives rely on engineers and physicists many times.



    Absolutely I would. Professionalism is professionalism. Leave you attitudes at the door every night when you go home. If a doctor had people who always didn't listen to him (aka almost all of his clients), should he just say "Forget teaching people about their medication. Its written on the bottle, if they want the knowledge they can read it"? Not at all. It's unprofessional to not give people basic good information. If a soldier acted like that and said, "Forget trying to help these Iraqi people! If they look threatening to me I'm shooting them from now on!" would that be acceptable, even if every Iraqi he had tried to help until then was a terrorist too? It isn't like I originally asked a ton of questions.. I even learned what questions to ask from mechanics freely offering me information without asking much.
    That stuff is TOO basic. I don't think anyone here is talking about five second one liners or "take two and call me in the morning" because we've already got all that covered.

    The more serious business is what needs to be addressed and that is NOT covered in an office visit and people need to stop expecting it to be.

  6. #76

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    To be fair. Medicine is immensely complex, and I am not sure the people practicing really understand things either.

    There are various levels of explanation. One is the resources that need to be devoted for a project (time, money, etc.). That's simple in concept, but nearly impossible in practice to give for breakthru research. The only reliable way I've known engineering projects to be estimated is to start one, see how long things take and extrapolate. Science, so far, seems like it is even harder to estimate.

    Another level is an options and consequences view. What are my options, and what are the consequences if I chose particular options. This again is simple in concept, but problematic in practice. Consequences require prediction, and complicated things are notoriously difficult to predict. What can be done more reliably is to give a spectrum of consequences with probabilities attached (number eeek!).

    Another thing people want from science is for some philosophical debate to be settled. "Here you go, it's a fact. I am right you a wrong." Again, that is simple in concept, but the very approach to science aims to divorce itself from trying to bias itself to particular world views. This is the basis of the article @Hard posted.

    In each case, people want something from science that may make sense for less exploratory/investigative endeavors, but have to be pigeonholed in rather unnatural ways for people to get what they want. They can be pigeonholed that way, and often are...but often with horrible consequences later on (though sometimes things go really well too).

    The more apt analogy, I think, is that of someone trying to solve a crime... Imagine the following scenario presented to the investigator.

    "We want to know how much time and money it will take for you to figure out who killed my dear sister. I know you haven't seen the crime scene yet, but we need to know before we let you investigate. Also, please give use your list of suspects and what it would mean for us if any of the particular ones you had in mind were the culprit. I bet it was Jon, he seemed shifty to me. Tell me it was Jon, and you've got the job."

    EDIT: @kyuuei I suppose we're talking about different things. Of course doctors should persist in explaining medication to someone who's impaired. But educating the general public about basic science is an entirely different thing. It's needed, certainly, and we can improve things, certainly. But the situation many investigators find themselves in is similar to the one I gave.

    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
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  7. #77
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles View Post
    If that's the kind of explanation you expect, it's already very much done. Hell, every issue of Pop Sci consists of that if that's what you expect.

    I personally expect more.
    When we were talking specifically about research, I have yet to see a wealth of research accessible that isn't filled with "you need a degree to read this" without much to offer anyone else otherwise. Maybe you can enlighten me. Robot sharks and 'The Real Iron Man' on the covers of science magazines are all well and good, but I'm talking about more scientific, unbiased approaches just being translated for the masses better. Something that people can understand that accurately represents the field.

    And the stuff is out there. People either don't look, or they're too busy bitching and trolling when they could be researching.
    Or they don't know how to look. Or how to ask the questions they want to ask. There's a hundred hundred things that explain situations other than 'people suck'.

    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles View Post
    Additionally I don't understand this desire to be spoon fed everything which people have. Are we supposed to sit people down like babies or are we adults here? Do we need to lock up the bleach?
    ...The OP of the whole dang thread is about why science is hard to understand. There are studies being done about people not understanding scientific methods. There is clearly a desire, from the scientific community, to be understood by the masses in some way, shape, or form. And telling them "Trust us and leave us alone" really won't cut it anymore than it'll cut it in any other profession. Admittedly scientists get the short end of the stick a lot more than other professions.. but getting huffy about it doesn't quite fix it either.

    And seriously, if some mechanic tells you some stuff about bearings and you don't know the difference between what could be made up bullshit that sounds plausible and an actual explanation, then nothing has actually been explained.
    Very true. To prove that further: When I first took my car in for that very bearing issue, I was told it was my rotors. It sounded like that was right, rotors rotate, it does it when I spin, right on. Wasted my time and my money on nothing. The mechanic that helped me actually did take the time to show me a normal bearing, and then a messed up bearing on my car, to show that the other dude didn't know what he was talking about and just didn't want to take the time to test drive the car probably. Because this time I was SO angry, and I stormed in there and said "OMG I want my god damn money back you weasels!!" .. Even though I was irate and irrational and non-nice to this guy, he actually didn't take that personally and I left apologizing for yelling and with life-long knowledge. He wasn't gift-wrapping everything he has on a silver platter for me. He created a customer for years to come, and demonstrated his expertise. Something all experts eventually should do, In my opinion. Which I said from the start was something I felt.

    You can be all grumpy and frowny-faced if you want. But I know there's people who would appreciate having more access to science in its raw, unbiased forms without having to sacrifice jobs and hobbies they love just so that you don't look down on them from your science .. horse.
    Kantgirl: Just say "I'm feminine and I'll punch anyone who says otherwise!"
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  8. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    To be fair. Medicine is immensely complex, and I am not sure the people practicing really understand things either.

    There are various levels of explanation. One is the resources that need to be devoted for a project (time, money, etc.). That's simple in concept, but nearly impossible in practice to give for breakthru research. The only reliable way I've known engineering projects to be estimated is to start one, see how long things take and extrapolate. Science, so far, seems like it is even harder to estimate.

    Another level is an options and consequences view. What are my options, and what are the consequences if I chose particular options. This again is simple in concept, but problematic in practice. Consequences require prediction, and complicated things are notoriously difficult to predict. What can be done more reliably is to give a spectrum of consequences with probabilities attached (number eeek!).

    Another thing people want from science is for some philosophical debate to be settled. "Here you go, it's a fact. I am right you a wrong." Again, that is simple in concept, but the very approach to science aims to divorce itself from trying to bias itself to particular world views. This is the basis of the article @Hard posted.

    In each case, people want something from science that may make sense for less exploratory/investigative endeavors, but have to be pigeonholed in rather unnatural ways for people to get what they want. They can be pigeonholed that way, and often are...but often with horrible consequences later on (though sometimes things go really well too).

    The more apt analogy, I think, is that of someone trying to solve a crime... Imagine the following scenario presented to the investigator.

    "We want to know how much time and money it will take for you to figure out who killed my dear sister. I know you haven't seen the crime scene yet, but we need to know before we let you investigate. Also, please give use your list of suspects and what it would mean for us if any of the particular ones you had in mind were the culprit. I bet it was Jon, he seemed shifty to me. Tell me it was Jon, and you've got the job."
    If it weren't for Sputnik we wouldn't have all the satellites we can't live without today. Also I think if it were up to the US and our apparent need to be all up in the business of science, if Russia hadn't have done it first, it would have never been done because people would be to busy bitching about how they don't know why it should be done and they don't understand.

    Hell, if it weren't for WWII and the Cold War and Operation Paperclip picking off the German and Russian science, we'd be relatively in the dark ages right now.

  9. #79
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    I suppose we're talking about different things.
    I don't think we are. I think a professional attitude can be attained while still striking a balance between what's needed from either side.

    I see really unfortunate shit going on like Discovery Channel's demolition of shark week for the sake of cashing in on reality TV garbage. And tricking those poor biologists in the process.. But those biologists are REALLY well-educated people. And they still didn't know they were being deceived for devious footage that was far different from the science they wanted to present. Education level does not mean you're not an idiot in other ways. People want to be informed about science because, as Sprinkles pointed out, science permeates our whole life. Whether we chose it or not. Every one of us and everything we do. And stupid stuff... like putting limits on passwords and characters used and things like that are actually hurting the public when they think they're protecting their own information following those stupid, uninformed formats most websites use. And people don't even know it. It's there everywhere we go. And unless the scientific community embraces this challenge and steps up to the plate a bit more, people are only going to know a guy for what t-shirt he wore instead of the fact he landed on a god damn comet.

    When people make science more accessible to others (like STEM programs for children and such) they help create a generation of better informed people. Appealing to children is the best thing STEM fields have done in a long time towards embracing the public's needs while maintaining integrity and autonomy.
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  10. #80
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles View Post
    That stuff is TOO basic. I don't think anyone here is talking about five second one liners or "take two and call me in the morning" because we've already got all that covered.

    The more serious business is what needs to be addressed and that is NOT covered in an office visit and people need to stop expecting it to be.
    Yeah, because there's an actual office to create basics. When it comes to understanding research, though, you really just jump into the deep end or stare at the water. There are a lot of aspects of science that we absolutely should know better about that just isn't touched. Either you're in the know, or you aren't and eff you. That's really the attitude.. and the more education I am receiving as I go along, that's how it is delivered more and more.

    If rawfoodsos.com can translate research for fun into something people understand, I know scientists can translate their own research so that people aren't twisting their words without others being able to call them out on their ill informed bullshit. I know it can be done.
    Kantgirl: Just say "I'm feminine and I'll punch anyone who says otherwise!"
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