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Author Topic: AmeriPol thread  (Read 1001136 times)

Starver

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29865 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 #29866 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 #29867 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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hector13

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29868 on: March 21, 2019, 12:38:26 pm »

Donald Trump is still feuding with John McCain.
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scriver

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29869 on: March 21, 2019, 12:39:01 pm »

One thing there is that never die
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Zangi

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29870 on: March 21, 2019, 12:41:01 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.
Shop forAsk enough experts and you'll get a consensus by committee with weight behind it.
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MrRoboto75

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29871 on: March 21, 2019, 12:43:40 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.
Shop forAsk enough experts and you'll get a consensus by committee with weight behind it.

I have you know 9 out of 10 Dentists agree.
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Kagus

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29872 on: March 21, 2019, 12:47:21 pm »

Dissociative Identity Disorder affects 7 out of 5 people. Know the facts.

hector13

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29873 on: March 21, 2019, 01:14:08 pm »

2k pages, default ppp master race /pointless
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Egan_BW

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29874 on: March 21, 2019, 01:17:22 pm »

Well, we are very close to our 30,000th post.
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Trekkin

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29875 on: March 21, 2019, 01:19:12 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.

To be fair, "no amount of theory matters in the face of a single contradictory experiment" is one of the more perseverant lies-to-children we teach in grade school science classes, along with explicitly hypothesis-driven research being the ne plus ultra of empiricism, "anyone can be a scientist", and "many important things were discovered completely by accident." We talk about things like the Michelson-Morley experiment, for example, as though everyone else were a firm proponent of aether the day before and an equally firm believer in general relativity the day after, which elides a lot of the skepticism of both ideas (and the chronological gap between them); the experiments we remember are inflection points, not paradigm shifts unto themselves. I suspect people persist in thinking they need "just one experiment" to invalidate all of the results in support of the consensus because it's such a dramatically appealing story: one lone hero who doesn't play by the rules confounding all the stuffy old experts and so forth.

EDIT: Typos.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2019, 02:34:07 pm by Trekkin »
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wierd

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29876 on: March 21, 2019, 02:09:41 pm »

Indeed. The "one" experiment that gives the in-congruent result will instead be HEAVILY scrutinized to identify WHY it is in-congruent; It will not be accepted as "magical refutation!"

Example from recent history, was the "FTL Neutrinos" result.  That was a VERY in-congruent result, and one which the researchers did not themselves believe was a valid one, because there was a very consistent and reliable body of prior experiments which indicated such a result should not be possible-- Yet, there it was in their setup.  Why?

Turns out there was a calibration error in their setup.

Did not stop the news from improperly reporting "AMAZING FTL NEUTRINOS DETECTED!" and other such woo.  No, the scientists were really going "Hey uhm.. We THINK we did our experiment right.. but this is .... Well... Help us find out why this came out this way. Please.  We would like to either be able to repeat it reliably if this is indeed something new, or be able to prevent it from contaminating future experiments if it is an unaccounted for source of error."

AND-- the subsequent series of investigations, suggested revisions to experiment to rule out potential causes, and eventual determination of the cause of the anomalous result as a source of experimental error, that they then, of course, eliminated from their experiment. (FTL neutrinos not being what they were actually investigating, but instead [if I recall correctly] the rate of neutrino transformation using a stable reference beam, and a distant detector.  Proper timing of the beam's initiation and arrival at source being very important to being able to accurately measure that the neutrino oscillations detected were indeed from those produced in the beam, and so on and so forth.)

Michelson-Moorley was an important discovery, but moreso, it was a repeatable experiment.  It went through a considerable period of rigorous investigation to validate that it was a valid result, and that it was consistent, and not the result of experimental error.  That process was indeed quite protracted, and I expect had a lot of stern words uttered in both directions, but the validity of the experiment ultimately forced a change in the theory prevalent of the time.

Similar argument and proposed experimental processes were given for special and general relativity as well.  There is a very colorful and robust story to be told about all the attempts to validate or invalidate the proposed theory in the midst of the world war, and all the near-misses of people who could have been able to give definitive proof with experimental apparatus, that were foiled by bad weather, sudden changes in political climate, and the like.  It wasn't like Einstein just published his paper and suddenly everyone just fucking LOVED it.  No, it was a gradual process by which it had to be confirmed reliably and reputably.  (and even then, there were still detractors for many years-- Amusingly Einstein himself was such a detractor from Heisenberg's proofs of quantum mechanics, because superposition, and particle/wave duality disturbed the shit out of him.)

The issue, is that of people not understanding the process going on here, hearing the words "scientific debate", and thinking it is a debate of wits, and not a debate of merits and process validity. It is not "How can I sway everyone to BELIEVE me!?", and instead "have we eliminated EVERY conceivable source of error, or means of falsification in this result?", To which peers of the researcher gets suggestions on additional sources of error or means of falsification, to really and truly nail down the result as a real signal, and not either an experimental error, or a consequence of random chance within the error margin allowed by experimental error. 

This s VERY much different from a political debate, which is very much the former (How many voters can I convince of my poppycock rhetoric that will keep me in office? type things) and NOT this latter.




« Last Edit: March 21, 2019, 02:22:50 pm by wierd »
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Kagus

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29877 on: March 21, 2019, 02:34:40 pm »

But what if it's political science?

wierd

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29878 on: March 21, 2019, 02:49:29 pm »

You are a very bad man, you know that?  I bet you like making babies cry, dont you? :D


Political science is the attempt at emperical study of how governments and political movements work, and manipulate populations.  You know, things like "how to make really effective propaganda", how propaganda can have negative consequences and how to mitigate them, How nationalism affects a public's opinions and decisions, etc.

It is concerned with the mechanisms and psychology of rulers and those they rule over, and the various tactics used over the ages.  It has both positive and negative applications, but does not concern itself with those applications.  It is concerned with the how and the what.  Not the why. (at least not in as much as it relates to morality, as opposed to how that motive brought about a specific government or policy. That latter it very much cares about.)

That's at least my understanding of it anyway.  Considering that one cannot place a government into a controlled and repeatable trial, it is hard to hold to the same degrees of confidence that other sciences hold themselves to.  It's a lot more "fuzzy" and less confident as a result.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2019, 02:52:41 pm by wierd »
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Trekkin

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Re: AmeriPol thread
« Reply #29879 on: March 21, 2019, 02:55:21 pm »

That's at least my understanding of it anyway.  Considering that one cannot place a government into a controlled and repeatable trial, it is hard to hold to the same degrees of confidence that other sciences hold themselves to.  It's a lot more "fuzzy" and less confident as a result.

Well, it's observational science; it's not less confident, just operating under a different statistical framework. Astronomy's the same way.

Incidentally, you could put a government under a controlled and repeatable trial. My IRB just won't let me list mercenaries as senior/key personnel.
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