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cinepro

The Problem With Science: It's Not Credible

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Unfortunately, that is the watchword which ends basic research, which is the most important type of research -- and the easiest to defund by myopic legislators.

Didn't some important person recently advocate

cutting off public funding for volcano monitoring?

If so, they did not bother to take a survey of opinion

here on the double-volcano where I live -- and where

recent lava flows are causing all sorts of misery.

How would airlines know the best ways to fly into

and out of Iceland, if nobody were counting the

bits of pumice and obsidian flung into the clouds?

So, I'm all for continued funding of geological

research, whether for basic discovery or for just

letting us know where we stand, environmentally.

Spotted owl habitat research for environmental

impact statements, is a little more iffy.

When I worked for Boeing, we had the Arco

radioactive waste calcination project held up

for a lengthy period, while somebody counted

rattlensnake nests in the desert. I wonder how

much that hold-up cost (and what bribes were

paid under the table in Boise and Washington,

to get the EIS waver)?

UD

Edited by Uncle Dale

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I concur that a nations politics can adversely affect science. There is also the" internal " politics which can affect grants and careers. Add to the mix the human traits of ego and greed which scientist are also not immune from and one must carry a pinch of salt when viewing some ' research '.

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...the Arco radioactive waste calcination project...

 

 

A bittersweet time, as I recall. Continual radiation leak

warnings -- scrambles to the waiting buses in the 

emergency evacuations -- "this is no drill..."

 

My good friend, Ann Chidester Van Orden came down

with terminal cancer -- died far too young -- she worked

nearer the nasty stuff than I did -- I miss her, and our

talks about our respective Winegar and Chidester

ancestors in the 1834 Zion's camp expedition.

 

Then there was my sister Joan -- with severe birth defects;

just like little Ricky across the street, and Tommy next door.

All born the same year... back when nobody was really

monitoring the soon-to-be defunct A.E.C.

 

My early employer, the Post-Register did some investigative

reporting. I wasn't in on any of it, but I hung around the

editorial offices and listened. All of that was covered up, for

a couple of decades, at least. Pulitzer Prize level "hush-hush."

 

So, next time you laugh at the glowing green goo in a

Simpsons cartoon, remember the Arco highway waste

spills, the clean-ups and the cover-ups.

 

Dangerous stuff -- this Science.

 

UD

 

"I am become death, the destroyer of worlds..."

(By a guy named Oppenheimer -- there was a picture of him

mounted on the wall of the Boecon office where I worked)

Edited by Uncle Dale

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When you add the element of greed/pride with history of fraud into the mix, science (scientists rather) become even more difficult to trust. 

 

By coincidence, Ira Flatow of Science Friday on NPR will be discussing this topic later today. 

 

"Faked X-rays, fabricated data, unreported amputations—those are just a few examples of the medical misconduct discovered during Food and Drug Administration inspections."

 

This kind of fraud is much easier to get away with then fraudulent data in a physics experiment. Generally doctors do not check each others work. In the more general sciences people pore over the experimental data.

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I think this is also the current Church policy on doctrine.  Maybe religion isn't credible either.

Interesting twist. There is a greater sense of having arrived at an ultimate irreversible truth in some religions, but we all tend towards that in religious thinking, perhaps that is why the rising generation seems to be pulling away from organized religion which is associated with fixated truth.

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I concur that a nations politics can adversely affect science. There is also the" internal " politics which can affect grants and careers. Add to the mix the human traits of ego and greed which scientist are also not immune from and one must carry a pinch of salt when viewing some ' research '.

 

The hard sciences are more immune to this. It is hard to politicize gravity and quantum mechanics. The vagaries of funding may accelerate one area of growth and hinder another of course.

 

There is a simple rule of thumb: the further a science is from humanity and human interest the more likely the data is solid. It is unlikely anyone would forge data about a planet being found or a new species of fish being discovered or a new quantum interaction or a new development in materials science or something of that nature.

 

If you wander into climate change you have vested interests on one side trying to skew the data because they do not want any steps taken to hinder their interests. If you read data on same-sex marriage couples you want to watch the methodology closely. There are strong interests on both sides willing to fudge the data.

 

We get the science we are interested in and we usually get accurate data. When the interpretation of the data is politicized things get nuts.

 

At the extreme of politicization in Nazi Germany there was a push for Aryan Mathematics. The Mathematics professors were confused. How could there be a racial mathematics?

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Here's a twist on an old joke.

 

 Every day an old Idaho backwoods farmer walks past an Aryan Nations compound with a sack of chickens . One day the guard at the compound gate stops the old man and asks, " If I can guess how many chickens you have in your sack, will you give me one? "

   The old man says, " I'll give you both of them. "

 

  The guard says, " Five?"

 

 Now that is Aryan math !

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To Adams's points:

 

If a person doesn’t believe climate change is real, despite all the evidence to the contrary, is that a case of a dumb human or a science that has not earned credibility?

 

 

 

I think science hasn't earned credibility because little is taught early on about what science is, what it commits us to, and what epistemic status different kinds of claims have. People who don't give science its due are mostly ignorant about how science handles claims and how those methods and techniques might relate to their own claims. 

 

 


We humans operate on pattern recognition.

 

 

 

 

If he means that we reliable recognize correct patterns in the sphere where science has more dominance, then he is most certainly wrong. Humans apply faulty logic to samples riddled with uncontrolled biases all the time, especially when it comes to issues for which they seldom have have either the discipline or the knowledge to reliably assess. If humans did operate on pattern recognition, in this stronger sense, there'd be little need for science except for the most abstract and remote of topics.

 

If he means that humans tend to behave on patterns they think they find, well then that's a pretty vacuous thing to say.

 

 


 

The pattern science serves up, thanks to its winged monkeys in the media, is something like this:

 

 

Step One: We are totally sure the answer is X.

 

Step Two: Oops. X is wrong. But Y is totally right. Trust us this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agreed that that's the way studies with counter-intuitive conclusions are portrayed in the media for the most part, yet I can't help thinking that this is part of a loop in which people's ignorance of the nature of science is made even stronger by the news their ignorance has them selectively consume.

 


Science isn’t about being right every time, or even most of the time. It is about being more right over time and fixing what it got wrong. So how is a common citizen supposed to know when science is “done” and when it is halfway to done which is the same as being wrong?

 

 

 

 

In this first sentence 'science being about' means "what the aims of science are", and that's perfectly fine, but this adds unnecessary confusion. The main objections ill-informed people have against science could very well be prevented if they didn't mean by 'science' the actual body of knowledge the process scientists engage in ends up producing. Precious few people really object to the methods and techniques scientists use (however poor their understanding of these methods might be); they mostly object to the conclusions or treat the whole thing, not as an enterprise, but as a body of knowledge.

Edited by Alvino

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As for centuries and millenia and multi-millenia, I don't guess we have data to show that man is causing an ice age. There was an ice age, according to the climatologists millions of years ago, right? I don't know if that is true. But supposing it is, what caused that? Too much deodorant? Clearly, if contemporary climatology is true, ice ages happen with industrialization and without industrialization. 

 

Please read geology and climatology books, i don't have time to correct everything.  

or simply read

 

 

To say that science is immune from politics is....a ..... horsefeathers

 

It is like saying that politics influences medical science, AIDS deniers claim that medical doctors lie to people for political reasons. 

The scientific evidence doesn't care about the politics, but politics does care to spin the evidence. 

 

Science sent man to the moon, Bible literalists want to go back to the 14th century. 

Edited by MormonFreeThinker

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Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert and a pretty rational thinking guy, recently posted an interesting view of why many people don't trust science.  And he wonders if it is sometimes more rational not to trust "science":

 .

I only trust science when the person telling the facts is dressed in a white lab coat! Just remember, "white lab coat = truth".

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I only trust science when the person telling the facts is dressed in a white lab coat! Just remember, "white lab coat = truth".

lol! There's an advert on UK TV at present (for online bingo) that uses that very idea!

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Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert and a pretty rational thinking guy, recently posted an interesting view of why many people don't trust science.  And he wonders if it is sometimes more rational not to trust "science":

 

Science's Biggest Fail

 

 

 

I post this because I usually argue strongly in favor of "science" over other more supernatural forms of knowledge acquisition, and I thought he made an interesting point.

 

Science by definition is always tentative. It is only the best explanation we have so far as to how something works. For absolutes you need to go to religion. Here is where I think the LDS have the advantage over other religious sects. We are, or should be, open to more knowledge from wherever it comes.

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I only trust science when the person telling the facts is dressed in a white lab coat! Just remember, "white lab coat = truth".

Did you know you can buy them online?

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Please read geology and climatology books, i don't have time to correct everything.  

or simply read

 

 

It is like saying that politics influences medical science, AIDS deniers claim that medical doctors lie to people for political reasons. 

The scientific evidence doesn't care about the politics, but politics does care to spin the evidence. 

 

Science sent man to the moon, Bible literalists want to go back to the 14th century. 

 

Free Thinker

 

I didn't ask you to "correct everything". I explained how I look at science in general. You are free to disagree and I am not compelled to persuade you that you're wrong. You seem so rigidly dogmatic about one particular branch of science that interests you. Maybe it would be helpful to put aside the subject of global warming?

 

Like others here, I allowed for, and would even insist upon distinctions between those sciences that can be verified and those which cannot. It seems difficult to doubt that medical science is influenced politically. Pharmaceutical companies have a strong interest in maintaining that pills and shots are more necessary for good health than it really is. While I am delighted with the progress of western medicine, I think it would be naive to imagine that modern medicine is immune (pun intended! heh.) to big money and politics.

 

It isn't the only factor, but when money gets involved, it can be illustrated that quackery is all too tempting, especially when the quackery only involves not hurting anyone else very much, but making big time money for yourself as happens when mighty corporations or the local "snake oil" salesman gets us to swallow their placebos.

 

I believe in progress theologically and scientifically, but all change is not progress. Just as there is quack theology, there is quack science.

 

Regards,

 

Rory

Edited by 3DOP

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Free Thinker

 

I didn't ask you to "correct everything". I explained how I look at science in general. You are free to disagree and I am not compelled to persuade you that you're wrong. You seem so rigidly dogmatic about one particular branch of science that interests you. Maybe it would be helpful to put aside the subject of global warming?

 

Like others here, I allowed for, and would even insist upon distinctions between those sciences that can be verified and those which cannot. There is no question that medical science is influenced politically. Pharmaceutical companies have a strong interest in maintaining that pills and shots are more necessary for good health than it really is. While I am delighted with the progress of western medicine, I think it would be naive to think that modern medicine is immune (pun intended! heh.) to big money and politics. I believe in progress theologically and scientifically, but just as there is quack theology, there is quack science.

 

It isn't the only factor, but when money gets involved, it can be illustrated that quackery is all too tempting, especially when the quackery only involves not hurting anyone else very much, but making big time money for yourself.

 

Regards,

 

Rory

 

With MormonFreeThinker you don't have ask to be corrected.  If you don't agree with him he takes it upon himself to correct you. 

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 It seems difficult to doubt that medical science is influenced politically. 

 

You are not a scientist, who are you to say that they are influenced politically? 

Just ask the scientists, the scientific method works everywhere. 

 

 

 

It isn't the only factor, but when money gets involved, it can be illustrated that quackery is all too tempting, especially when the quackery only involves not hurting anyone else very much, but making big time money for yourself as happens when mighty corporations or the local "snake oil" salesman gets us to swallow their placebos.

 

Just an ad hominem, the scientific evidence is the same everywhere. 

AIDS deniers say that doctors lie for political reasons. Your argument is similar to what AIDS deniers are saying. 

 

 

You seem so rigidly dogmatic about one particular branch of science that interests you. Maybe it would be helpful to put aside the subject of global warming?

 

I am not dogmatic, I am open minded, I will change my mind if I see evidence, the problem is that many here only present pseudoscience, or out of context stuff. 

 

Scientists are not perfect, they make mistakes, but it doesn't mean we should not take their claims seriously, especially their high confidence claims. 

 

Edited by MormonFreeThinker

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As Nehor so nicely demonstrated in post # 3 , the lack of public confidence in " science" is not always the fault of scientists , but the reporting of results by the media. Scientists often couch results with vague language like " appears to, seems to, might be, has a correlation to, etc. " . Science reporters leap right over that type of language to " is " declarations. The public only sees those media reports and doesn't often follow up reading the highly technical original research.

   It has been reported with ' high confidence ' that eggs are bad for you, that alcohol is beneficial, that aspirin prevents heart attacks . The public sees these reports and then later sees reports to the contrary. They then ask, if there is so little assurity in scientific circles with things that are easily testable, how can pronouncements about things  that happened 100,000  or 13 billion years ago be regarded with absolute confidence ?

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The way I see it is that science and spirituality have both a point of being right and a point of being wrong. It depends on the science and on the religion. Some are so far off they cause harm and some are so true they cause insight. It’s a jungle out there with both of these that we have to figure out as we go along.

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The way I see it is that science and spirituality have both a point of being right and a point of being wrong. It depends on the science and on the religion. Some are so far off they cause harm and some are so true they cause insight. It’s a jungle out there with both of these that we have to figure out as we go along.

Gave you a bump on that. Both can be beneficial and harmful, and both are being both currently. Someday humankind may progress to the point of using both beneficially, otherwise I suspect the planet is doomed and it will be a combination of both having gone wrong at the same time which will destroy it.

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The way I see it is that science and spirituality have both a point of being right and a point of being wrong. It depends on the science and on the religion. Some are so far off they cause harm and some are so true they cause insight. It’s a jungle out there with both of these that we have to figure out as we go along.

 

During my last semester of studies at a Protestant seminary

in Ohio, I was assigned to a pastoral internship at a nearby

Baptist church. Most of the members really didn't like the idea

of having to put up with a "Mormon" in their midst, but they

lived up to the contractual agreement and I served out my

semester of Sundays and Wednesday evenings with them.

 

More than my Latter Day Saint background, what they really

objected to was my advocacy of the scientific method for

discovery and understanding. Even on the most secular of

topics -- the weather, the price of gasoline, the best way to

care for a pet -- their first inclination was to consult the Bible.

To many of them "Science" was a dirty word, because it put

its methods for discovering facts ahead of prayer, worship

and the scriptures (not to mention John Calvin).

 

But, in a way, all of that worked out to my advantage -- for,

whenever the matter of my "Mormonism" was raised, I usually

managed to move the conversation over to scientific matters,

and we could argue about how old the earth was or why

crossing a donkey and a horse resulted in an infertile mule.

 

At which point, I found it tactful to nod my head in agreement,

and say, "You know, you're probably right. I'm often wrong

about my opinions...." Which usually ended the controversy

with smiles on the Baptists' faces.

 

UD

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Recently seen. I'm not a scientist but...Plot idea 97% of the worlds scientists contrive an environmental crises, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires and oil companies.

Edited by thesometimesaint

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As Nehor so nicely demonstrated in post # 3 , the lack of public confidence in " science" is not always the fault of scientists , but the reporting of results by the media. 

 

That is the first time I agree with you, that is so true. That is why we should read the scientific literature, not blogs or the media.

 

 

Recently seen. I'm not a scientist but...Plot idea 97% of the worlds scientists contrive an environmental crises, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires and oil companies.

 

Here is a list of worldwide scientific organizations that concluded the same thing, including scientific organizations from China, Russia, Venezuela. 

http://opr.ca.gov/s_listoforganizations.php

 

It is clear that the scientific evidence doesn't care about the politics, but politics does care to misrepresent the science. 

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Personally, I don't know what to think.  Seriously.  In science a lot of the predictions of foods/allergies and stuff like that..have changed a thousand times..What causes cancer and what doesn't has been ongoing so much that I can't keep up.  When my children were little, I was told by doctors and other mothers that juice was so good for the baby..juice in a bottle, with early feedings and milk was the best thing to do.  Years later...after  a lot of cavities..found out that juice was the worse thing you could give a kid...and for heaven's sakes..older people stay away from milk! 

 

In spirituality, even in my most comforting and goosebump feelings, I found  out that thee church and things I  believed were continually evolving..or changing without fact or complete understianding,,buat with the evolution of 'The Times",,,PR moves, and the ever existing contest and concept of an ancient past that does match.

 

And after shaking my head...I just follow the gut..and instincts,.

 

Just wanted to add that kindness is me religion.

Edited by Jeanne

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 I was told by doctors and other mothers that juice was so good for the baby..juice in a bottle, with early feedings and milk was the best thing to do.  Years later...after  a lot of cavities..found out that juice was the worse thing you could give a kid

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that fruit juice not be given to infants under six months of age since it offers no nutritional benefit to babies in this age group. After six months of age, infants may have limited amounts of juice each day.

 

 

Personally, I don't know what to think.  

 

You don't have to believe everything the scientists say, but at least take the scientific consensus seriously, or challenge it with peer-reviewed evidence. 

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