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Author Topic: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)  (Read 22493 times)

Telgin

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #435 on: May 01, 2019, 09:34:27 am »

That's pretty cool, but I think we're still a very long way from many useful applications.  Decades probably.  Especially anything related to biology, like disease treatments or the brain monitoring mentioned in the article, since that's an extremely sensitive environment and I can think up a whole lot of ways things can go wrong.
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scourge728

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #436 on: May 01, 2019, 04:54:12 pm »

You act like the government would CARE about things going wrong, as long as it's not them or their donors getting affected

Telgin

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #437 on: May 01, 2019, 06:07:57 pm »

Jokes about malicious and uncaring governments aside, the process for getting medical devices and treatments approved is very rigorous, at least in the US, so the government is kind of obligated to care even if the individuals maybe don't.

Not to mention if the things cause strokes because they block capillaries in the brain, that's going to lead to expensive lawsuits so even the money grubbing corporations have reason to be cautious.
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Trekkin

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #438 on: May 01, 2019, 06:18:08 pm »

Plus which, we already have inherently biocompatible (or at least tunably immunogenic) nanoscale machines that can be oligomerized into arbitrarily large (for the cellular scale) structures: peptides.

Actually, this reminds me of something I saw at Columbia five years ago on putting nanoscale radio transmitters (trench-covered silicon cubes, really) into vesicles and tuning the pulse frequency by adjusting the membrane permeability. Optogenetics supplanted much of their utility, as I suspect they will here; the fabrication advantage is considerable.

The battery refurbishment use seems more plausible to me.
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Eric Blank

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #439 on: June 12, 2019, 12:13:35 pm »

So there was some news published back in early May, there are multiple articles covering it, some quite sensationalist.

Apparently the fossil record on the island of Aldabra in the Indian ocean reveals that a species of rail, believed to be direct descendents of the still-living white-throated rail of Madagascar, lived on the island up until ~136,000 years ago, when the island was submerged completely. Since these birds were flightless, because of a lack of incentive to fly, they all died. But 20,000 years later they reappeared again; as in, white throated rails once again colonized the now-vacant island and the colonizers once again adapted to identical living situations by losing the ability to fly, producing the modern Aldabra Rail, which is nearly identical to the one that went extinct.
Amusingly, many of the article titles and summaries on Google seem to read as if the mighty evolution gods enacted a divine miracle and resurrected these poor dead birds. The sciencemag article originally posted May 14 was edited to correct that very mistake; "*Correction, 17 May, 11:45 a.m.: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the repeated evolution of flightlessness by the white-throated rail on the Aldabra atoll produced two subspecies thousands of years apart, and not a single subspecies that disappeared and reappeared."

But the title of USNews' article still says: "Extinct Bird Re-Evolved Itself Back Into Existence On"

CBS News posted "An extinct bird species has evolved back into existence, study says"

News Atlas used the phrase; "Extinct bird resurrected as evolution starts over again"

CNN also used "Extinct species of bird came back from the dead, scientists find"

It's almost like they're trying to to communicate, but their language is stupid, and I do not speak it. :P
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Trekkin

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #441 on: June 12, 2019, 03:57:33 pm »

Relevant: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/6/11/18652225/hype-science-press-releases

You know, everyone talks about the public's "faith in science," but nobody ever talks about scientists' faith in the public.

I'm not just saying this to be edgy. The majority of my immediate colleagues openly consider outreach to be a waste of time, particularly in the post-Trump era; if the public wants to believe the Earth is flat and vaccines cause autism and windmills cause cancer, why on (flat) Earth would they listen to us? Even when they're given papers, they just quote-mine them for trivial things with which they can justify disregarding them.
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Eric Blank

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #442 on: June 12, 2019, 04:10:19 pm »

That's entirely true
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smjjames

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #443 on: June 12, 2019, 05:47:27 pm »

Relevant: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/6/11/18652225/hype-science-press-releases

You know, everyone talks about the public's "faith in science," but nobody ever talks about scientists' faith in the public.

I'm not just saying this to be edgy. The majority of my immediate colleagues openly consider outreach to be a waste of time, particularly in the post-Trump era; if the public wants to believe the Earth is flat and vaccines cause autism and windmills cause cancer, why on (flat) Earth would they listen to us? Even when they're given papers, they just quote-mine them for trivial things with which they can justify disregarding them.

Hasn't it kind of always been this way though? I mean, even in Galileo's time...

 The Church was pretty pro-science at one point wasn't it? Because 'God would want us to learn how the world works' or something like that. Then they started finding things that contradicted God and whatever. Still, even though they've almost completly stopped being anti-science now, theres still a lingering stereotype of being anti-science. I was just sort of spontaneously wondering how it'd help things if The Church (and religion in general) was more pro-science.
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Trekkin

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #444 on: June 12, 2019, 06:55:33 pm »

(-snip-)
Hasn't it kind of always been this way though? I mean, even in Galileo's time...

 The Church was pretty pro-science at one point wasn't it? Because 'God would want us to learn how the world works' or something like that. Then they started finding things that contradicted God and whatever. Still, even though they've almost completly stopped being anti-science now, theres still a lingering stereotype of being anti-science. I was just sort of spontaneously wondering how it'd help things if The Church (and religion in general) was more pro-science.

They generally dispute the conclusions rather than the process, though, and there are ways to reconcile that. Non-overlapping magisteria, for example. It's obvious bullshit, but it lets both sides work on what they care about.

I think the Internet has done a lot to unify individual cranks into a kind of reflexively nihilistic, narcisstic disbelief, though. If someone thinks the Earth is six thousand years old because their holy book says so, that's a falsifiable claim that we can, at least, argue about. However, there are plenty of people now who just reflexively demand to see proof about everything, call people "biased" with no explanation of how, say "I question these data" as though that means anything on its own, and generally have come to the conclusion that science is wrong because they want to sound smarter than scientists, however much they "love science". They tend to end their statements with "checkmate" a lot, and nitpick about fonts and statistical minutae. They don't need or want a coherent position to argue beyond "neener neener", and so there's no way to make them face facts because they'll deny them just to "own" you and then declare victory anyway. It's the "everybody's too scared to debate me" school of debate.

They've always been around, but now they're talking to each other and reinforcing each other, and they're not doing it with any kind of consistent logic, and we're powerless to disprove a disbelief in proof.
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smjjames

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #445 on: June 12, 2019, 07:53:58 pm »

It suppose it might be possible to loopception them by saying that if they disbelieve proof, then they should disbelieve their own proof, then watch their heads explode from the logical 'DOESNOTCOMPUTE!!!!!'

Really though, it'd probably take a Phd in psychology to start figuring out how to combat those type of people, but the ones that aren't hardcore in it and still reasonable could still be coaxed away from that kind of thing. That's probably the group (along with stereotypical conservatives) that your colleagues are talking about, not the ones who just go 'HA HA! I OWNZ YU LIHBRUULSSHH!'
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Trekkin

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #446 on: June 12, 2019, 08:26:31 pm »

It suppose it might be possible to loopception them by saying that if they disbelieve proof, then they should disbelieve their own proof, then watch their heads explode from the logical 'DOESNOTCOMPUTE!!!!!'

Really though, it'd probably take a Phd in psychology to start figuring out how to combat those type of people, but the ones that aren't hardcore in it and still reasonable could still be coaxed away from that kind of thing. That's probably the group (along with stereotypical conservatives) that your colleagues are talking about, not the ones who just go 'HA HA! I OWNZ YU LIHBRUULSSHH!'

You'd think, right? There's a twofold problem with that, though. Not only does the backfire effect drive people further into believing wrong things rather than admitting they're wrong, but the social dynamics are backwards for that kind of transition. By the time people come to believe certain counterfactual things, they're used to being ridiculed and rejected for them except by fellow believers, which leads them to think that if they give up now they'll lose all their friends and still be mocked by the nonbelievers.

Now, that's not to say there aren't ways to fix this. It's just that, in our official capacity, we're absolutely not the people you want trying; they've already decided we're full of shit, and we're expected to make our case in ways they're already numb to. That's also why you can't trap them logically, by the way. They are used to finding other ways of making sense of things in preference to logic, so if what they believe doesn't make sense, that's only proof that they've slipped the mental bonds of the sheeple and started thinking for themselves.

Then, too, we're way outnumbered by people that "love science" as a way to get to call people idiots for not believing it, and they've become adept at skimming our output for new vocabulary without actually learning anything. I've watched it happen. So, when we come along and explain how we know various things not to be true, we sound a lot like the Internet experts whose thesis is "you're all idiots." If you want to stop the cranks, I think a good first step would be to stop the folks driving them into crankdom in their zeal to demonstrate what they know and figure out a way back for the quasi-cranks that doesn't involve them being ridiculed for having believed something stupid. Otherwise, we're fighting an uphill battle on quicksand.
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smjjames

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #447 on: June 12, 2019, 08:56:47 pm »

The first part wasn't actually serious, but I think you knew that.

The link I posted earlier probably points to a large part of the problem on both sides since you mention the scientists coming off as 'Internet experts whose thesis is 'you're all idiots'' since it's about presenting it to people outside the usual circles that it would go around in. The article also mentions that sometimes it's the scientist doing the press release writing it badly without meaning to.

So, probably a good place to start would be on the communication end since that's probably where a good deal of the crankification and ivory-towerification is.
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Trekkin

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #448 on: June 12, 2019, 09:49:33 pm »

The first part wasn't actually serious, but I think you knew that.

The link I posted earlier probably points to a large part of the problem on both sides since you mention the scientists coming off as 'Internet experts whose thesis is 'you're all idiots'' since it's about presenting it to people outside the usual circles that it would go around in. The article also mentions that sometimes it's the scientist doing the press release writing it badly without meaning to.

So, probably a good place to start would be on the communication end since that's probably where a good deal of the crankification and ivory-towerification is.

I did, yes; I was responding mostly to the second part.

And yes, communication would be a good place to start, but ultimately, like I said, whatever we say can be aped stylistically by people with ill intent, and telling science apart from scientific-sounding gibberish is a hard job. It's one reason we have peer review. So even if we're perfect, we're still going to sound like the people copying us in order to say inaccurate things. Ultimately, if we want to fix communication, we need to recognize we're neither the only nor the loudest voice out there.

Errors are inevitable, too, if only because science isn't perfect. If those were all we had to deal with, I'd be way more on board with putting the onus on researchers primarily.

Part of the problem is also that outreach is volunteer work for us; it doesn't advance our careers nearly as much as publications do, and while it's emphasized in training it's ultimately not that important in hiring -- and we're in the process of being hired, continually, for most of our careers. People can claim scientists work for the public and demand more mandates, but really, we work for the people who fund us and they're mostly us, at least proximally, so people do outreach because they're enthusiastic.

And outreach is the best way we know to sap a graduate student's enthusiasm. It's all first- and second- years who go, at least here. Nobody above second year has any interest in the public except as minimally effective resume fodder.

So if you want more communication, better communication,and therefore more time spent on communication, it'd be nice if it was less of a soul-sucking horror show.
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wierd

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Re: Science Thread (and !!SCIENCE!! Thread!)
« Reply #449 on: June 12, 2019, 11:42:06 pm »

The issue with being misrepresented (systemically, for ideological reasons) happens to everyone, everywhere.

I hate to bring up the Vatican again so soon, but the august Cardinal Richelieu is attributed to the following quotation:

"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

This is basically the crux of your problem; and a good scientific paper contains much more than a mere six lines of text.



Consider the demographics that are normally implicated, and how they twist even their own "axiomatically true" doctrinal texts all out of context for such purposes. (I don't mean to pick on the religious conservatives, but they represent a statistically significant fraction of the demographic, and of that sample, a significant number engage in out-of-context biblical quotation bingo. It is my understanding that other conservative religious demographics have the same problem, but with their own doctrinal sources being misrepresented/interpreted for convenience of ideology.)


What is really important though, is to not lose sight of who you are ACTUALLY trying to reach;  It is not the people that have already decided apriori that they need to mock, ridicule, and debase anything and everything you or your peers put on paper for the public (because they can).  It is for the people that would like to know, but are being shouted at/against by the prior group, and who are kept in the dark as part of their indoctrination and cultural conditioning, but would much rather have a broader, and more meaningful understanding than just the straight diet of dogma they get at home.  (if anything, the fact that these previously disparate groups have all joined up together into a siren's wail of terror, indicates that outreach is WORKING, rather than failing. They see you as competition in gaining mindshare, and have upped their game.)

Being harangued by the vocal gestalt of social idiocy is to be expected; When you get criticized by the genuinely curious young minds, that is when there is an issue.

And really, current academic publishing DOES have that issue. (See for example, the slew of really bad papers that have been getting accepted to peer reviewed journals in recent years that are literally nothing but buzzwords thrown together by a markov chain generator. 'sa truth sera.)

When you lose that demographic, you fail to replace your ranks as you age, and retire.


When you stop doing the outreach altogether, because of fear of the seething death cries of the willfully ignorant-- you guarantee the loss of the second as well.

« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 11:59:39 pm by wierd »
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