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Author Topic: AmeriPol thread  (Read 1476868 times)

Max™

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28935 on: March 19, 2019, 03:13:51 pm »

Bah, don't bother with opinions at all, everyone's got an asshole and some opinions, but at least assholes serve to eliminate waste plus possible... alternative uses... they're generally best kept to yourself all the same.
It's still argument from authority when you use quotations, you know, but I actually don't think Feynman was right about this one -- or rather, I think the context in which he made those remarks is sufficiently different from our own to warrant pause in taking them wholly to heart, as we have effectively done in outreach for many years. We've been so careful to note our uncertainty that we've forgotten to explain how limited our uncertainty is and by extension how confident we really are, and I think that's helped to erode confidence in our institution -- or at least made it easier for the anti-science movement to muddy the waters.

There's a story I like to tell about this involving a guy who, one morning on the bus I was taking to my grad school lab, attempted to convince me that π is exactly equal to 3, as implied by the Bible (1 Kings 7:23). I pointed out that π is demonstrably not exactly equal to 3, and his response has stuck with me: "Scientists have wasted billions of our tax dollars trying to find π, and millions of digits later they still don't have an exact number, just a lot of blather about how it's infinite or whatever. So how can you tell me it's not 3 when you don't know what it is?"

That was an extreme example (and wrong in every particular), but the basic pattern holds from climate change denialism through "citizen science" tomfoolery on into crystal healing woo: we do an absolutely execrable job of explaining how uncertainty actually works for us. We say we can never be absolutely sure about anything and people hear that we have no idea regardless of our actual margins of error; we're so careful to express humility and not sound overconfident that we forget to mention how much we actually know, and that's how the woo-peddlers and Republicans get a chance to spread their nonsense. We've overcorrected relative to 1974, I think.
Yeah... I know being able to tell a case like that from quackery like climate denialism is beyond plenty of people, and I hate mentalities that reject science wholesale.  But that doesn't make it wrong to take a deeper look yourself and form your own opinion when expert consensus looks too convenient for the interests of industry or state.
Not sure climate science suffers from a problem of excessively forthright presentation of uncertainty. I mean, nobody bothers to even mention a consensus on plate tectonics, general relativity, solar plasma physics, thermodynamics, or the more exciting branches of chemistry where stuff like flourine gets to come out and play when people aren't tossing around words with far too many wurtzitaneizene sounding syllables. It's important to identify and compare things like majority and minority positions when working towards a political consensus, but it will never cease to baffle me that anybody thinks it has any sort of relevance when doing science. You don't determine experimental results by committee, you get them by running experiments--indeed, this is a case where quantity matters: more experiments is generally going to mean more understanding--and a single experimental result can outweigh any number of scientists arguing against it until they do their own experiments and find the prior results flawed or otherwise inaccurate.

The political easy-button for funding in various fields where you might struggle to convince a board to fund shit like... I dunno. THE GODDAMN JWST... but you find a way to hook it into climate something or other, pow! You're set to start pulling in grad students and ordering gear to test your brains out with.

Being skeptical of science though, that shit is straight up ridiculous, it's a verb. Are you skeptical of juggling, or weaving, or driving?

I doubt your walk and remain suspicious of swim!
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Egan_BW

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28936 on: March 19, 2019, 03:27:47 pm »

There are some verbs that I am sceptical of. Such as telepathy.
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Folly

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28937 on: March 19, 2019, 06:29:58 pm »

Being skeptical of science though, that shit is straight up ridiculous, it's a verb. Are you skeptical of juggling, or weaving, or driving?

After a general survey of human beliefs and policies now and throughout our entire history, ridiculousness should surprise nobody at this point.
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bloop_bleep

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28938 on: March 19, 2019, 07:11:20 pm »

I disagree with Max that literally nothing except the raw data matters. You always have to interpret the data, find flaws with the data, find uncertainties in the data. That’s what scientists argue about. Otherwise there would be no such occupation as a “scientist”; as the data collection itself could easily be done via manual labor.
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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28939 on: March 19, 2019, 07:31:26 pm »

Science and telepathy are both nouns...
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Frumple

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28940 on: March 19, 2019, 08:25:37 pm »

Science gets verbed occasionally these days, for what it's worth. Telepathy, less so.
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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28941 on: March 19, 2019, 09:13:24 pm »

All nouns are verbs just taking a break from their 'd
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Folly

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28942 on: March 19, 2019, 09:23:52 pm »

You're sciencing me bro. Don't science me bro. If you keep sciencing me, you're gonna get scienced bro. You don't wanna get scienced bro...
Okay, that's it, now you're getting scienced bro! I'm gonna science you like you've never been scienced before bro! You're gonna learn that you can't just go around sciencing bros, bro! It's sciencing time!


Google spell-check found 0 issues with these sentences.
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MrRoboto75

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28943 on: March 19, 2019, 09:33:24 pm »

Being skeptical of science though, that shit is straight up ridiculous, it's a verb. Are you skeptical of juggling, or weaving, or driving?

I am skeptical of some people's driving, yes.
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hector13

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28944 on: March 19, 2019, 09:38:00 pm »

Being skeptical of science though, that shit is straight up ridiculous, it's a verb. Are you skeptical of juggling, or weaving, or driving?

I am skeptical of some people's driving, yes.

I saw a speeding, lime green Jeep weaving in and out of traffic this morning.

Unfortunately I couldn’t see if the driver was also juggling. I apologize for my failure.
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EnigmaticHat

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28945 on: March 19, 2019, 10:09:19 pm »

There's a story I like to tell about this involving a guy who, one morning on the bus I was taking to my grad school lab, attempted to convince me that π is exactly equal to 3, as implied by the Bible (1 Kings 7:23). I pointed out that π is demonstrably not exactly equal to 3, and his response has stuck with me: "Scientists have wasted billions of our tax dollars trying to find π, and millions of digits later they still don't have an exact number, just a lot of blather about how it's infinite or whatever. So how can you tell me it's not 3 when you don't know what it is?"
Popular portrayals of science deserve some blame, for throwing the word "prove" around.  Science is about disproving things.  Anyone can form an idea, scientists test ideas by trying to destroy them.

That guy was pointing out your idea wasn't proven.  You were pointing out that his idea was trivially disproven.  Only one of you knew what science is.
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thompson

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28946 on: March 20, 2019, 12:09:24 am »

There's a story I like to tell about this involving a guy who, one morning on the bus I was taking to my grad school lab, attempted to convince me that π is exactly equal to 3, as implied by the Bible (1 Kings 7:23). I pointed out that π is demonstrably not exactly equal to 3, and his response has stuck with me: "Scientists have wasted billions of our tax dollars trying to find π, and millions of digits later they still don't have an exact number, just a lot of blather about how it's infinite or whatever. So how can you tell me it's not 3 when you don't know what it is?"
Popular portrayals of science deserve some blame, for throwing the word "prove" around.  Science is about disproving things.  Anyone can form an idea, scientists test ideas by trying to destroy them.

That guy was pointing out your idea wasn't proven.  You were pointing out that his idea was trivially disproven.  Only one of you knew what science is.

I work in materials science, so to me science is about figuring out how the hell I managed to turn my germanium black the first time I tried. So, kind of like engineering, except you don't know what you're doing.
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Starver

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28947 on: March 20, 2019, 08:01:35 am »

There's a story I like to tell about this involving a guy who, one morning on the bus I was taking to my grad school lab, attempted to convince me that π is exactly equal to 3, as implied by the Bible (1 Kings 7:23). I pointed out that π is demonstrably not exactly equal to 3, and his response has stuck with me: "Scientists have wasted billions of our tax dollars trying to find π, and millions of digits later they still don't have an exact number, just a lot of blather about how it's infinite or whatever. So how can you tell me it's not 3 when you don't know what it is?"
Popular portrayals of science deserve some blame, for throwing the word "prove" around.
"Prove" (and alternate forms) is the right word, but understood wrongly. To prove is essentially to put to the test/trial, and while it can often be read as "the positive answer" it more rightly often refers to the question being asked regardless of the answer that may then have followed.

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating", you must taste the food to confirm its nature. "Galley proof"/"Proof sheet", the initial test-print to confirm layout/content. "Prove all things, hold fast to that which is true.", analyse for veracity before then taking that which has it for your informed position. "(100, or other value)% proof", a concentration of alcohol as empirically established. "Proving bread", allowing the yeast/equivalent to properly demonstrate its ability, before actually baking it. "Not proven", not sufficiently tested to establish a result (especially of guilt, in Scottish law).

And of course the classic misunderstood "The exception that proves the rule". There's an apparent rule and then along comes an exception to the rule that explores the limitations of the assumption, breaking the assuredness of the rule and/or forcing alteration so that the original rule is not confirmed (as often mis-stated) but actually shown to be not valid. Finding an exception shows where the rule is wrong.

(Although some say "the exception that proves the rule" is more about that when there is a noted exception it indicates that somewhere outwith that exception there must yet be rule-following of the kind the exception does not obey, or else that exception would not be notable. But it does rely on fully countable and testable non-exceptions, or else all you're really implying is that the exception is the true rule and anything going by the old rule is an exception to the exception. And if not all exceptions to the exception's rule may themselves follow the old-rule, then you have to consider a rule for the old-rule candidate(s), a rule regarding the exception(s) and who knows how many further rules you need to cover exceptions to tje exceptions that are themselves exceptions to the old-rule. e.g. Possessives, in English¹.)


¹. The basic rule is to add apostrophe-'s' to all words that don't end in an 's' already as a plural, otherwise just append the apostrophe after the existing final 's'. This comes pre-catering for the exception that a non-plural s-ending word ought to have apostrophe-s. "The mass's gravitational pull is..." "The masses' gravitational pulls are..." "Professor Jones's experiments on gravitational attraction demonstrated that..." "Each LIGO installation around the world is set up in the shape of a giant L, the L's placement being flat to the local ground level." "If each of the Ls' orientations are in differing planes then we can ultimately determine the direction from which a detected signal came."

But there are exceptions.  Biblical names don't "s's" themselves, for some archaic reason likely to originate with calligraphising monks not laboriously inking out "Jesus's" when they might otherwise have done so. (Or at least once they started to do it in English rather than Latin or whichever other precusror.) But that exception doesn't prove (confirm) the rule, because you need to consider the possessive (and determiner) pronouns that are all archaic exceptions, with "its" being the one people stumble over most because there is an "it's" that is in the separate group of regular contractions. Except for the pronoun "one" which isn't an exception like its brethren and sistren and othren.  Something belonging to one is one's. Unless it is the very self of one, which is oneself.  None of these confirm the aformentioned rules, merely highlighting limitations to the generality of the rule, letting a couple more 'rule-breaking' examples that I haven't yet mentioned exist, so none of those exceptions justify the more naïve versions of the rule, they merely show that a more complex version of the rule needs to be established to cope with the additional rigor of all these exceptions.
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Il Palazzo

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28948 on: March 21, 2019, 12:24:41 pm »

It's important to identify and compare things like majority and minority positions when working towards a political consensus, but it will never cease to baffle me that anybody thinks it has any sort of relevance when doing science. You don't determine experimental results by committee(...)
And it will never cease to baffle me how *certain people* keep using this false equivalence. The scientific consensus is not handed down by some imaginary committee, it emerges organically in the literature as a result of following up on promising research and discarding duds. One doesn't find out what the consensus is by asking a committee - one does find out what it is (or isn't) by doing a literature review. You know, like the opposite of cherry picking.
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nenjin

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #28949 on: March 21, 2019, 12:32:18 pm »

Quote
One doesn't find out what the consensus is by asking a committee

Or they do, in the case of U.S. Nutritional Science. Which is how we ended up with 40 years of bad guidelines and the low fat craze.
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