Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Is Science?

 
This video does an excellent job of explaining the difference between science and superstition. The world would be a much better place if everyone took the advice shown here.




9 comments :

  1. This presents all "established science" as good and free of emotional prejudice, fear, etc. Its' not quite that way.
    Further, to mkae things more interesting, the factt that someone may mix their science with a lot of emotional appeals does not necessarily mean they are wrong ion all of their scientific points (In fact, scientists often go "cuckoo" over some interesting point, even if they overhype it, and its up to you to separate the gold from the dirt)) .

    The video does not handle the fact that there can be plenty, plenty of SCIENTIFIC disagreement within "official science" and that this disagreement, while legitimate, is hardly is rarely free from emotional considerations, social context, egos, etc. SURPRISE EVERYBODY!!! Scientists are just human, too.

    The video itself seems to be places its own kind of "emotional pressure" in replacement for logic. For instance this video invites us to place blind faith in science, the following way

    "if you don't know about something, and most (official) scientists have an opinion about that, there is no way official science can be wrong about it, because sciencie is objective and truthful, so you must be wrong"

    NYet, even armed with this argument, the fact would reamin that you'd still be completely ignorant about that scientific topic. You'd STILL know JACK about it!

    Now, placing blind trust in "official science" is by no means the way a truly good scientist should think. Any scientists that thinks this way is very unlikely to produce a major shift in scientific thinking, even though they may show some contributions (But hey, even Behe can show contributions)

    ReplyDelete
  2. A. Vargas: The video stated that every human has emotional bias, but that scientists use the scientific method to get closer to reality. And it seems to work. (The part about double blind tests for instance.)

    It also stated that if you want your ideas accepted by scientists or taught in science classes you need to present proof, although most scientists will probably be equally interested if you can disprove a current notion.

    I think many people find scientists intimidating for some reason, which is why you hear things like "scientists are just human!" Anybody that is interested in science knows this -- they know that their intuition is flawed -- that is exactly why they use the scientific method or became scientists in the first place.

    As you wrote it can be a huge mistake to readily absorb widely accepted scientific models because that might interfere with your own understanding of the underlying phenomena. And for science to work you need to challenge these notions constantly. But on the other hand, if you just close your eyes and ram your head into a heavy piece of science like the big bang theory or evolution, then your just going to hurt yourself and waste your time without doing any useful impact.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "but that scientists use the scientific method to get closer to reality. And it seems to work. (The part about double blind tests for instance."

    Scientists do not simply apply a method or universal formula that just oozes scientific accomplishment from the other side. Not anything done using a "scientific method" is a great scietific accomplishment, either. Some questions are a bit harder to answer than those posed by a double blind study.

    "It also stated that if you want your ideas accepted by scientists or taught in science classes you need to present proof"

    This is like proof were something you just have to slap on the table to convince everyone.

    "although most scientists will probably be equally interested if you can disprove a current notion"

    Not so much, specially considering that some scientistst tend to confuse their opinion for "fact".


    "But on the other hand, if you just close your eyes and ram your head into a heavy piece of science like the big bang theory or evolution, then you're just going to hurt yourself and waste your time without doing any useful impact"

    It can be a lot worse. There can BE an available explanation that can make you feel you have understood and resolved something that actually is controversial.

    "they know that their intuition is flawed -- that is exactly why they use the scientific method or became scientists in the first place"

    I repeat: scientific method (whatever that is exactly supposed to mean) is not a magic formula for producing great science, even if rigorous methods are necessary and always present.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A. Vargas said...

    "Any scientists that thinks this way is very unlikely to produce a major shift in scientific thinking, even though they may show some contributions (But hey, even Behe can show contributions)"


    I hope you don't mean to say that the only important contributions are "major shift[s] in scientific thinking". There is a chance that the current thinking has it right, and no shift in necessary...

    ReplyDelete
  5. "There is a chance that the current thinking has it right, and no shift in necessary..."

    Generating new ways of thinking does not necessarily mean getting rid of the old way of thinking orof well-established knowledge, this is why science is accumulative, not only revolution. Yet it is well documented that reputed scientists may resist new ways of thinking. It usually has to do with some sense of "sufficiency" of the previous views.

    Videos like this seem yo say "trust the scientific method, and everything will be OK". In my opinion, only the worst scientist could think like this. Of course, he can be productive as a scientists, using the scientific method to uncover data. For instance, Francis Colins can do that. Behe can do that.

    But have they got what it takes to be creative in a scientifically USEFUL way? They are too distracted by religious philosophy.

    Some of the best advances in science are theoretical and not about simply applying the scientific method. As if "new evidence' makes everything plain to us. Rather, it is not uncommon that the evidence has been sitting in front of us all along.

    The scientific method is simply a GRANTED in science. But truly great sciencie is much more than applying the scientific method. Nor is it only about censoring the emotions, as this video falsely suggests.

    ReplyDelete
  6. For instance, notice the reasons given for evolution:

    1) "underpinned by the same scietnific discipline and intelllectual force that enabled engineers to send voyager 2 to neptune with one second accuarcy"

    What did that ever prove about evolution with that? He's juts reciting an unrelated case of scientific accomplishment as "equally reliable". The fact is, they ARE equally reliable. The conundrum is that this can only be seen by someone who has already understtod evolution. But just comparing to another completely unrelated scientific accomplishment is a non-argument. A creationist can realize that.

    "accepted by scientists with theistic belifes as wel as scientists with none"

    Agaian, its true. But this does not mean in itself that evolution is correct, doesn't it. It has nothing to do with understanding evolution.

    Larry, what's wrong with your brain? how can you eat up this shit like freakin french fries and ketchup!)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I guess I am confused by your argument. All of you examples of "well-established" people following dogma and not taking to new, better models are a failing due to themselves and their biases (clearly outlined as bad in the video). It is not a failing of the method.

    Yes, scientists are human. And that being human can colour our judgment. So why are you attacking a method that attempts to decrease this bias?

    And finally, I think this video is meant for "Jo/Jane public". They would have to make a more precise as a training manual for scientists, and probably be discipline-specific. But the point is that the "I just know there is a god" bias is a problem affecting education (US, for instance, and elsewhere). The attempt here is to tell people that the same method that does things you do appreciate reject theories like ID in favour of modern thinking in evolution. This was a message to those being taken in by the ID propaganda machine. So where is you problem?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Huh. What is my problem?
    This video seems to belive it is possible to defend evolution without actually talking anything specifically about...evolution. It is tailor-made to make you think you can remain perfectly ignorant about evolution while "defending" it. Is that OK?

    Does the fact that science use the scientific method mean that we can "accept" any widely accepted scientific view without knowing jack about it?. No it doesn't.

    A passing view of the history of science will readily reveal that, although scientific method has been known for a long time, plenty of frivolity and stupidity from within science itself often block scientific advancement.

    I'm not attacking scientific method, I'm attacking its naive glorification (and that of scientists), as if it has provided some "easy" solution to the problem of bias. If you look at the evidence, from the history of science, it is clear this is false. Actually scientists can be prone to think "we are scientists that apply the scientific method, so we can't possibly be wrong"

    ReplyDelete
  9. I guess my point is: When scientists like Larry start believing Jo_-Jane versions of science, the ultimate loser, is, of course, science.

    Science is best, but it is not as good as some think it is. It is best that scientists be aware of these deficiencies rather than glorify and "protect" science. I think science is hardly helped out by those who present science is some easy result of applying some "formula" that makes you objective. That is, quite simply, bullshit.

    ReplyDelete