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Old 08-17-2017, 06:41 AM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is offline
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Non-Experts and Science

In the "Quantum Mechanics & Mind" thread, the question was pondered by Expanso Mapcase:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Expanse Mapcase
Why does every - and I mean every - math illiterate who comes here to lecture actual working scientists on math related subjects insist that out there somewhere in the depths of the Internet are real experts who know the truth that the entire world scientific community can't figure out even though they spend literally every day of their lives dealing with the outcomes of this math?
I think the question can be even further generalized to why do non-experts in science think that they've come up with some amazing theory so readily and are so resistant to facts that they're theory is very wrong?

My response was:

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeepKillBeep
I've thought about this a bit before. I think that it comes down to two things. First, non-experts like abashed, MantraPhilter et al. don't understand how advanced and specialized science has become. They seem to think that it is much as it was like in the the first half of the 1900s (or late 1800s). Much of the basic understanding of most scientific disciplines is resolved and well-established. These days research is extremely specialized and generally very narrow. In some cases, they think that this has become dogmatic, but what they don't understand is that it is well-established because so much has been built on top of it that verifies this understanding on a daily basis.

Second, they don't understand the process of coming up with a scientific hypothesis and the process to investigate it. They seem to think that a hypothesis is just an idea and that such ideas can simply come from the ether. They don't understand the process of reviewing literature and building on what has been firmly established, the process of looking for the little gaps in the literature that need to be filled in. This discussion could almost be an interesting thread itself, and if this goes anywhere I might start one because I am interested in what other people think.
Half Man Half Wit responded with:

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Originally Posted by Half Man Half Wit View Post
BeepKillBeep, I'd be very interested in such a thread, particularly if it were to focus on what could actually be done to help these people understand the defects of their reasoning. I mean, to me, it's just such a great waste: millions of hours of intellectual work going to waste chasing mirages, simply because nobody ever managed to give them the right tools and expertise.

But most approaches seem to just lead to a doubling-down. You tell them they're wrong, they'll just consider you too stupid to appreciate their genius. You tell them why they're wrong, and precisely because they're lacking the right tools, it has no effect at all. So what's a good strategy here?
So here we are and we'll see where this goes.

I definitely agree with Half Man Half Wit, in that it is such a large waste. I spent more time than I should have talking with MantraPhilter, although nowhere near as much or in detail as others, trying to not point out in the most basic ways he was incorrect but how he could go about correcting himself to no avail. But this isn't about the time I, and others, wasted, I believe that people can learn and MantraPhilter was passionate about physics, and it is great to to have somebody else trying to expand human knowledge. Like other scientists on this board, I'm sure we all have dozens of stories from trying to explain our area of expertise to non-experts on the internet only to have them tell us how wrong we are and fire back with some rudimentary knowledge that itself was incorrect (or maybe that's just me).

So how do we fix this? Well, I've been a proponent of improving critical thinking skills in school. This would help not just with this bizarre non-expert scientist effect but in other matters as well, but that doesn't really help out with the current situation. How do you reach a non-expert that is convinced their right but doesn't even have the tools to know they're wrong to convince them to go and acquire the basic tools to know how wrong they are? I wish I knew.

In any case, as I said above, I'm very interested in what others have to say about this and thoughts on how the situation can be improved.

Last edited by BeepKillBeep; 08-17-2017 at 06:44 AM.
  #2  
Old 08-17-2017, 06:56 AM
Princhester Princhester is offline
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You're up against the Dunning Kruger effect.

I just want to say "Good luck, we're all counting on you".
  #3  
Old 08-17-2017, 07:30 AM
nate nate is offline
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There is such a huge barrier to entry about such things. Even if access to published research was free (and that would help), it takes someone who is already an expert in a particular field to be able to read and understand the material enough to make further contribution. It's hard work to get to this level and much easier just to post some shit to a message board.
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Old 08-17-2017, 07:50 AM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is offline
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Originally Posted by nate View Post
There is such a huge barrier to entry about such things. Even if access to published research was free (and that would help), it takes someone who is already an expert in a particular field to be able to read and understand the material enough to make further contribution. It's hard work to get to this level and much easier just to post some shit to a message board.
This is very true. I remember my first paper in grad school, a literature review on smart weapons (I had just left the military). It was astonishing how much material there was and how deep the material went. It simply was not what I expected to find.

The school where I did my M.Sc actually had this very conversation. How can we get scientific literature to the layperson in a way that they will understand? They didn't come up with anything, although they favored the idea of creating learning objects (LOs) that would help explain the critical elements of complex material at a layperson's level. Graduates students at the university would build LOs as part of the course material. Such LOs would then be accessible freely to the public. There are LO repositories out there, but they don't tend to be very useful from what I've seen. Even a couple that I've built during my M.Sc, when I look at them now, I think, what could somebody really get from this? Probably nothing unless you already knew everything I was going to tell you anyway.

Last edited by BeepKillBeep; 08-17-2017 at 07:50 AM.
  #5  
Old 08-17-2017, 08:40 AM
QuickSilver QuickSilver is offline
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Science is hard, not everyone can do it and relatively few can legitimately claim expertise. Pseudo-science is easy, everyone is an expert.
  #6  
Old 08-17-2017, 08:40 AM
Grey Grey is offline
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The problem seems to come down to the use, or rather the need for, analogies and the success of Einstein's gedankenexperiments. The scientifically interested lay person learns about how things behave like waves or particles or intentional agents (genes) and then starts extending that hazzy understanding into logical constructs.

It's a foundation built on sand backed up by mental models without empirical results. How could you ever be wrong? And since you consider yourself clever and since you don't yet understand that like isn't is people's explanations make little sense.
  #7  
Old 08-17-2017, 09:01 AM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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I think that many of the people simply can't grasp that they aren't as intelligent or well educated as they think that they are, but for the ones that are really, really, insistent and build their whole lives around their pet idea, they seem much more likely to have some underlying mental problems--not mere arrogant but delusional or paranoid (especially the ones who think that there is a conspiracy from all scientists to suppress their brilliant new idea.) So very often it isn't an educational issue, it is a medical issue.
  #8  
Old 08-17-2017, 09:43 AM
nate nate is offline
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I also think a lot of the newer science tv shows don't help much. I understand the producers' incentive is to make the content as accessible as possible, but it usually ends up with what seems to be camera-friendly scientists stating science facts and opinions without going in to any details that may be lost on the average viewer. Therefore, it looks easy, there is no math behind it, and it just has to be somewhat logically consistent and explainable with what we know already. I think a lot of people think this is all there is to doing science.

But once you learn just a little bit more and begin to look at actual research, you are humbled by how little you know compared to those in the field. I think a lot of pseudo-scientists open this door to this room and quickly close it and pretend that room doesn't exist.
  #9  
Old 08-17-2017, 10:18 AM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is online now
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An important free booklet to download, from people with plenty of experience in debunking:

https://www.skepticalscience.com/Deb...-download.html
Quote:
The Handbook explores the surprising fact that debunking myths can sometimes reinforce the myth in peoples' minds. Communicators need to be aware of the various backfire effects and how to avoid them, such as:
  • The Familiarity Backfire Effect
  • The Overkill Backfire Effect
  • The Worldview Backfire Effect

It also looks at a key element to successful debunking: providing an alternative explanation. The Handbook is designed to be useful to all communicators who have to deal with misinformation (eg - not just climate myths).
Implied, and mentioned in other places, is the very important item that people needs to be told about what is the current consensus or majority view that the experts have on an issue. It is such a key item that misinformers out there do see it as an item that must also be minimized or dismissed so as to continue with a larger deception.

IMHO one more layer of information needs to be used as it comes from people that are not experts, but that they do have plenty of experience in looking for simpler explanations and did a lot of the homework already. I'm referring here of groups such as Rationalwiki, Skeptical Inquirer, Skeptical Dictionary, Snopes or even Cecil.

More than once, and in this message board too, I encountered people that claimed that if Snopes or popular scientific shows like NOVA on PBS did not talk about an issue that then it was not a true one; so not only did they hang on to the sources out there that fed them misinformation, they also depended on the seemingly "missing in action" "message" that they got from popular scientific or debunking groups when they looked like if they had no word about an issue.

As it happened, I showed to the subjects that indeed Snopes and NOVA did talk about those issues (the lack of a higher number of articles on a subject has to be blamed on some peculiar editorial choices), matching what most experts did report about the issue.

It was IMHO a good thing to see them acknowledge that a source they did agree that it should be looked at looked at the issue and did agree with most experts. Here one should not forget that if the person can not be reasoned with, that it is the other readers or viewers out there the ones whom we have to direct our message.

At least they stopped pushing the idea that serious popular sources of science and debunking disagree with the experts on those issues.
  #10  
Old 08-17-2017, 10:53 AM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Some things are just flat complicated ...

Nevermind why cyclones spin the direction they do ... why do they spin at all? ... I've watch a few Wikipedia pages change over the years and it's fun to read though the talk pages and some of the screwball theories posted ... but that's a cloud sourcing issue and doesn't affect BeepKillBeep's idea of having "learning objects (LOs)" ... and to be fair and honest, Wikipedia is slowly getting things right, seems that eventually someone comes along who's not only knowledgeable in the subject but also skilled at teaching the subject ... however, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a textbook, so it has its roll in helping us understand, but it's kinda sorta a bad place to learn things from scratch ...

Some things just seem obvious and intuitive once we understand ... we tend to forget the weeks and months we struggled to earn this understanding ...

Last edited by watchwolf49; 08-17-2017 at 10:57 AM.
  #11  
Old 08-17-2017, 12:09 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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I would make a couple of points.
  1. Scientists tend to be overconfident of whatever theory is prevailing any particular time. This is something which has been true of scientists in previous generations and is true of scientists today. Of course, scientists in every generation acknowledge that the previous generations of scientists got things wrong but that this is no longer possible today, but there's no objective reason to accept this. It's part of human nature, apparently. The result of this is that scientists keep being proved wrong on details of their theories, at the least. This gives ammunition to lay people that if scientists could be wrong about some things then any scientists can be wrong about anything, and if scientists might be wrong about this particular thing they're studying, then who's to say that I can't come up with the correct theory.
  2. Some of what BillKeepBill describes as "well-established because so much has been built on top of it that verifies this understanding on a daily basis" is really circular. Because much that gets "built on top of it" is interpreted in line with conventional scientific understanding simply because it's what people assume is correct, not because it's independent proof of that understanding. But this is not always obvious to people who been taught to understand these things in line with those theories - to these people it may seem obvious that they are to be understood in that manner. So someone who looks at it from a completely different perspective may seem more far off than they actually are.

That said, the likelihood of any particular lay expert being right while scientific consensus is wrong is extremely small. But the above factors give support to such intrepid lay experts as are willing to challenge the prevailing consensus.

Last edited by Fotheringay-Phipps; 08-17-2017 at 12:09 PM.
  #12  
Old 08-17-2017, 12:40 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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I would just like to point out that, despite the Dunning-Kruger effect and the vast number of non-scientists attempting to send their contributions out into the world of science,* and despite the increasing specialization of science, it is still possible for non-experts to make real contributions to the sciences.

Such successful contributions tend, however, to be restricted in their scope. Trying to refute Einstein or Quantum Mechanics (as some people described in Martin Gardner's still-useful [Fads and Fallacies] In the Name of Science did) are almost certainly wrong.

But Marjorie Rice, who read a 1975 Scientific American article on tessellations, went on to herself

1.) invent a notation for tessellations
2.) discovered four new tessellating pentagons
3.) discovered over sixty new pentagonal tessellations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjorie_Rice

She had a high school education and no notable background in math. She did all this in her spare time.

The case of Srinivasan Ramanujan is even more famous.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srinivasa_Ramanujan

People say he was a genius, as if that explains it all. But most people probably wouldn't call Marjorie Rice a genius. She was arguably obsessed, but that's a good ingredient for making discoveries.












* I know -- I've been the recipient of papers and even books purporting to re-arrange our worldview
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Old 08-17-2017, 12:44 PM
RaftPeople RaftPeople is offline
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Look no further than our own debates forum to see how hard it is to do:
1 - unemotional, unbiased, reasoned exchange of info

2 - Update of mental model/world view when presented with new data


I can count on one hand the number of posters on this board that I read that I think genuinely read, accept info, process it, respond appropriately, revise their view, etc.


We (humans) suck at this process.
  #14  
Old 08-17-2017, 12:44 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
I would make a couple of points.
[LIST=1][*]Scientists tend to be overconfident of whatever theory is prevailing any particular time. This is something which has been true of scientists in previous generations and is true of scientists today. Of course, scientists in every generation acknowledge that the previous generations of scientists got things wrong but that this is no longer possible today, but there's no objective reason to accept this. It's part of human nature, apparently. The result of this is that scientists keep being proved wrong on details of their theories, at the least. This gives ammunition to lay people that if scientists could be wrong about some things then any scientists can be wrong about anything, and if scientists might be wrong about this particular thing they're studying, then who's to say that I can't come up with the correct theory.
This is something many nonscientist tend to think, incorrectly, about science and scientists. Most scientists would like nothing more than to upend the orthodoxy and be the one person that presents the new theory. Most scientists are always questioning the prevailing wisdom. That's what lies at the heart of science.

Last edited by John Mace; 08-17-2017 at 12:45 PM.
  #15  
Old 08-17-2017, 12:59 PM
RaftPeople RaftPeople is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
This is something many nonscientist tend to think, incorrectly, about science and scientists. Most scientists would like nothing more than to upend the orthodoxy and be the one person that presents the new theory. Most scientists are always questioning the prevailing wisdom. That's what lies at the heart of science.
While true, it's also simultaneously true that new correct models/ideas can take a long time to become accepted by the majority, even if the old idea didn't really have good data to support it.

So, even though scientist A might be actively seeking to prove new idea #1, he/she may not have the mental bandwidth for an analysis on scientist B's new idea #748 and thus assumes that what he/she was taught is still valid.
  #16  
Old 08-17-2017, 01:14 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
This is something many nonscientist tend to think, incorrectly, about science and scientists. Most scientists would like nothing more than to upend the orthodoxy and be the one person that presents the new theory. Most scientists are always questioning the prevailing wisdom. That's what lies at the heart of science.
It's not clear what you think I've said that you're purporting to contradict.

As to your own comment, it's worth noting this observation from Max Planck:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Planck
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
  #17  
Old 08-17-2017, 02:09 PM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
I would make a couple of points.
  1. Scientists tend to be overconfident of whatever theory is prevailing any particular time. This is something which has been true of scientists in previous generations and is true of scientists today. Of course, scientists in every generation acknowledge that the previous generations of scientists got things wrong but that this is no longer possible today, but there's no objective reason to accept this. It's part of human nature, apparently. The result of this is that scientists keep being proved wrong on details of their theories, at the least. This gives ammunition to lay people that if scientists could be wrong about some things then any scientists can be wrong about anything, and if scientists might be wrong about this particular thing they're studying, then who's to say that I can't come up with the correct theory.
  2. Some of what BillKeepBill describes as "well-established because so much has been built on top of it that verifies this understanding on a daily basis" is really circular. Because much that gets "built on top of it" is interpreted in line with conventional scientific understanding simply because it's what people assume is correct, not because it's independent proof of that understanding. But this is not always obvious to people who been taught to understand these things in line with those theories - to these people it may seem obvious that they are to be understood in that manner. So someone who looks at it from a completely different perspective may seem more far off than they actually are.

That said, the likelihood of any particular lay expert being right while scientific consensus is wrong is extremely small. But the above factors give support to such intrepid lay experts as are willing to challenge the prevailing consensus.
These are good points. A good scientist should be willing to change their view based on a new solid argument, and it is definitely true that scientists are human and therefore can become very invested in what they know and be slow, or completely unwilling, to budge. Typically, though the arguments that come from laypeople are not very well formulated and have serious errors. And that's a shame because if there was a kernel of an idea it gets lost in the mess.

Now when I'm talking about building on top of that which is very well-established, I'm talking about very basic information. I find that the ideas that come from laypeople usually are trying to overturn the very basic elements because that's what they know about. I.e. they don't have the depth of knowledge to formulate an idea that is in the scientific gaps. These things are hard to overturn because they're so well-established. Just to speak from personal experience for a moment, I get at least one person, usually an undergraduate, come to me every year with their big idea on artificial intelligence. 95% of the time it deals with either video games or strong AI. Of those, probably 90% concern artificial neural networks (ANNs). Of those, problem 99% have a profound misunderstanding of what an ANN is, what it does, and how it works. This isn't a case of, oh maybe ANNs actually work they way they think. They don't. They just don't. If ANNs worked they way they think they work then hundreds or thousands of experiments per year would just fail. So that's what I mean, there's really no chance that tomorrow I'm going to read a paper saying "ANNs don't work they way we think." Could happen, but I'd bet against it every time regardless of the odds.

So yes, there's definitely room for laypeople to contribute and that's why I try not to simply dismiss a layperson. And yes, there's certainly room for being careful not to get caught up in simply accepting what think we know as we know, but at the same time, there are certain principles in every scientific domain that are such a base truth, that it is very unlikely that they will completely wrong. But again, I think these are good points and I think you're right that this type of thinking that results in an error does give ammunition to laypeople to say "But so-and-so was wrong so maybe you are too!" All the more reason for the scientific community to be careful in making definitive pronouncements (but usually it isn't the scientist that makes such pronouncements but journalists cover the scientist).

Last edited by BeepKillBeep; 08-17-2017 at 02:11 PM.
  #18  
Old 08-17-2017, 02:33 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeepKillBeep View Post
Now when I'm talking about building on top of that which is very well-established, I'm talking about very basic information. I find that the ideas that come from laypeople usually are trying to overturn the very basic elements because that's what they know about. I.e. they don't have the depth of knowledge to formulate an idea that is in the scientific gaps. These things are hard to overturn because they're so well-established. Just to speak from personal experience for a moment, I get at least one person, usually an undergraduate, come to me every year with their big idea on artificial intelligence. 95% of the time it deals with either video games or strong AI. Of those, probably 90% concern artificial neural networks (ANNs). Of those, problem 99% have a profound misunderstanding of what an ANN is, what it does, and how it works. This isn't a case of, oh maybe ANNs actually work they way they think. They don't. They just don't. If ANNs worked they way they think they work then hundreds or thousands of experiments per year would just fail. So that's what I mean, there's really no chance that tomorrow I'm going to read a paper saying "ANNs don't work they way we think." Could happen, but I'd bet against it every time regardless of the odds.
Certainly anything that needs to actually work is harder to overturn. Because if the conventional understanding has produced inventions which actually work, then someone looking to challenge that has to come up with an alternative explanation for why the prior understanding produced workable machines.

I'm thinking more of fields which are not geared to producing workable machines. E.g. suppose an archeologist excavating some site decides that the site was probably for such-and-such use. Then he finds tools and implements, and interprets them in line with his theory, as being tools involved with such-and-such use. And so on, for any other features at the site. After a while, there's an accumulated weight of all the various things associated with such-and-such use, and these can seem like additional evidence when in reality their interpretation is based on the initial hypothesis, and proving the hypothesis from the additional evidence is circular. (I'm seizing on an archeological example because I was once struck by this when reading up on the dispute over meaning of the Khirbet Qumran site, but it has much broader application.)
  #19  
Old 08-17-2017, 02:39 PM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is offline
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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
Certainly anything that needs to actually work is harder to overturn. Because if the conventional understanding has produced inventions which actually work, then someone looking to challenge that has to come up with an alternative explanation for why the prior understanding produced workable machines.

I'm thinking more of fields which are not geared to producing workable machines. E.g. suppose an archeologist excavating some site decides that the site was probably for such-and-such use. Then he finds tools and implements, and interprets them in line with his theory, as being tools involved with such-and-such use. And so on, for any other features at the site. After a while, there's an accumulated weight of all the various things associated with such-and-such use, and these can seem like additional evidence when in reality their interpretation is based on the initial hypothesis, and proving the hypothesis from the additional evidence is circular. (I'm seizing on an archeological example because I was once struck by this when reading up on the dispute over meaning of the Khirbet Qumran site, but it has much broader application.)
I understand what you're getting at.
  #20  
Old 08-17-2017, 04:20 PM
Dropo Dropo is offline
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Writing as a non-expert....

Science, like learning foreign languages, is clearly not for everyone, and there is no getting around the fact that it is not essential to know things like the structure of an atom or how electricity is generated to live in the modern world. In a strictly pragmatic sense, if one doesn’t need such knowledge to pay rent/mortgage, do laundry, eat dinner, watch sports or chase girls/boys, what good is it?

That said, teaching the Scientific Method to develop/enhance powers of observation, deductive reasoning, creativity and the ability to view results/errors in proper perspective remains the best technique humans have yet devised to approach and solve problems, while establishing a baseline of facts (called “theories,” and ever subject to being proved wrong). In trying to correct others who do not have such training, there will inevitably be (too many) instances where the effort is folly.

For those cases where there is hope of enlightenment, I have found explicit correction to be less effective than the Socratic Method; asking questions of other people until they realize the weak point(s) of their argument. This process can be time-and-effort consuming and may require significant amounts of creativity and intuition - to say nothing of patience and fortitude - on the part of the questioner. Nevertheless, a successful result can be very gratifying for all parties.

As for “non-experts” offering “scientific expertise,” many such instances attest to the human inclinations for attention and feelings of self-worth (and sometimes greed) as outweighing the inconvenience of field-specific ignorance.

You will now have to excuse me as it is the time of day I have set aside for finishing up work on my perpetual motion machine....
  #21  
Old 08-17-2017, 04:44 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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My original observation taken from the other thread was made because of the uncanny similarities of posters like abashed and MantraPhilter and the infinite number who insist that 0.999~ does not equal 1. They want words, which they think they can deal with, to prevail over the math they can't handle. They therefore latch on to others on the Internet who bestow that gift upon them.

This is a particular subset of the much larger tendency to reflexively reject the pronouncements of actual mainstream experts. The larger group also accuses the mainstream of having a belief system that keeps out their brilliant, fresh, new thinkers, true. This is common across all conspiracy mongers. Look up the threads about whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, e.g. A common accusation in those is that the academic community somehow conspires to keep out those with contrary judgements because... Well, because Big English, I guess. The notion that a true maverick who actually proved the mainstream wrong would be acclaimed as the greatest genius of the day is utterly rejected. That can't be true because it diminishes all their favorite mavericks who are scorned as cranks and crackpots.

Despite all the commonalities, I'm not yet sure that the math cranks aren't a separate species. They go back a long way. They may be the first body of cranks to be recognized by the scientific community as a counter-community of their own, even preceding the Shakespeare cranks. Look up the history of the circle-squarers and angle-trisectors and pi is rational crowd. Whole books have been written on them based on the illiteracies they sent to math professors, in the proverbial green crayon on butcher's paper tomes. Math is hard and requires years of study, to be sure. But many of these cranks devote so many hours to their hieroglyphics that they could pick up a good math education in that time. They simply don't want to. That would give others authority over their heads, an intolerable situation.

I don't think anything can be done to change minds like these. Refute them, dismiss them, ridicule them, patiently explain the truth, each works equally badly. Another trait we see frequently here is seeming to accept correction and then returning to their exact first crackpot post the very next time they show up, like they leave to hit a reset button. Yeah, you see that in political and religious posters as well. Maybe there really aren't any differences. They all make my head hurt.

Oh, yeah. They all hate being told that their crankness is exactly the same as all the other cranks' crankness and that their style of argument is so cliched that the ending can be predicted from the first post they go off the rails. People here, especially the ones that spend so much time repeating the same ignored refutations, might want to watch out for these tells and cut their losses earlier than they do.

Last edited by Exapno Mapcase; 08-17-2017 at 04:48 PM.
  #22  
Old 08-17-2017, 08:25 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
It's not clear what you think I've said that you're purporting to contradict.

As to your own comment, it's worth noting this observation from Max Planck:
Max Planck lived a long time ago.

Last edited by John Mace; 08-17-2017 at 08:25 PM.
  #23  
Old 08-18-2017, 08:16 AM
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I wish I knew what motivated these cranks. The Mantraphilter thread was interesting because he finally made (reluctantly and after six or so pages) a definite prediction from his half-assed and incoherent ideas: Protons are more massive than neutrons (because they're actually neutrons that receive electric charge from compressed photon waves, but one step at a time). But when it was pointed out that experiment in fact shows the opposite, he predictably started rambling about how he's actually right but the scientific orthodoxy just switched around the names of protons and neutrons, how math can prove anything that's even remotely true, how relativity means that all experiments are wrong, or etc. The moral is, these are not rational people, and there's literally nothing that will cause them to reconsider their sneer-quoted 'theories'. For example, from the original thread:

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Originally Posted by abashed View Post
To be honest, I have no clue about the calculations you give here, but that does not change anything.

Last edited by Itself; 08-18-2017 at 08:16 AM.
  #24  
Old 08-18-2017, 10:05 AM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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It's not clear what you think I've said that you're purporting to contradict.
I'm going to intervene here in John's defense as he is absolutely right. Perhaps the most egregious thing you said, and that he quite correctly contradicted, was your statement that "Scientists tend to be overconfident of whatever theory is prevailing any particular time. This is something which has been true of scientists in previous generations and is true of scientists today."

This is nonsense that reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of science. It's the opposite of how science works, and if it were true it would be hard to make any progress. Science is inherently skeptical and accepts theories only on the basis of extensive and persuasive evidence, and by the same token, accepts changes and new theories if, but only if, they are supported by a commensurately persuasive body of evidence. Since science is conducted by human beings with human foibles and failings, you're always going to get occasional zealots dedicated to defending their own views at any cost, but that's not how science as a discipline works, and if it did it would fail as the marvelous tool for discovery that it is and it wouldn't make the astonishingly rapid progress that it does.

Which incidentally, on the subject of this thread, is exactly why individuals engaged in armchair speculation with no knowledge of facts and evidence are wasting their time and everybody else's. Unfortunately, due to the Dunning-Kruger effect, they're blissfully unaware of this.

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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
As to your own comment, it's worth noting this observation from Max Planck:
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A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
That Planck said this doesn't make it true. He was very wrong in this belief, and his own discoveries are plentiful proof of that -- he himself introduced the quantum theory of blackbody radiation which was widely hailed, earned him the Nobel Prize, and led to new theories of quantum physics that revolutionized science in the 20s. In order to do this, however, Planck had to reject his own long-held absolutist view of the second law of thermodynamics and instead acknowledge Boltzmann's statistical interpretation.

It's not clear why he would make a statement that so flies against the facts of the rapid advancement of science. He was perhaps jaded by the stresses of a very tragic and unhappy life in his later years, and he personally rejected many of the tenets of quantum theory that were being advanced by his contemporaries in the 20s despite the fact that he himself had helped establish the basics some decades earlier.
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Old 08-18-2017, 10:18 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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One of the more conservative areas of science, in my experience, is the study of hunan evolution. But just look at the revolution we are seeing in that field since Svante Pääbo first found Neanderthal DNA in modern humans (i.e., "us").

For good science to happen, there needs to be some tension between accepting new ideas and maintaining the established ones. We can't re-write the books every time someone comes up with a new hypothesis, so we do demand that something be tested and retested and put up for debate before it's accepted as the new theory. But it's been my experience that most scientists are trying their best to break new grounds, not cement in the orthodoxy.

Last edited by John Mace; 08-18-2017 at 10:19 AM.
  #26  
Old 08-18-2017, 10:21 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Perhaps the most egregious thing you said, and that he quite correctly contradicted, was your statement that "Scientists tend to be overconfident of whatever theory is prevailing any particular time. This is something which has been true of scientists in previous generations and is true of scientists today."

This is nonsense that reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of science. It's the opposite of how science works, and if it were true it would be hard to make any progress. Science is inherently skeptical and accepts theories only on the basis of extensive and persuasive evidence, and by the same token, accepts changes and new theories if, but only if, they are supported by a commensurately persuasive body of evidence.
As you might say, that you said this doesn't make it true.

Over the course of thousands of years, an enormous amount of what scientists have believed has turned out to be incorrect. But at any point scientists have been quite confident that the consensus of science is correct. There's no reason to just assume that human nature is different now.

What does make sense is to assume that science has advanced over time, so that scientists are closer to the true understanding than in prior generations. But if you're considering the tendency towards overconfidence, there's no logic to assuming that that's any different. Just faith.

Quote:
That Planck said this doesn't make it true. He was very wrong in this belief, and his own discoveries are plentiful proof of that -- he himself introduced the quantum theory of blackbody radiation which was widely hailed, earned him the Nobel Prize, and led to new theories of quantum physics that revolutionized science in the 20s. In order to do this, however, Planck had to reject his own long-held absolutist view of the second law of thermodynamics and instead acknowledge Boltzmann's statistical interpretation.

It's not clear why he would make a statement that so flies against the facts of the rapid advancement of science. He was perhaps jaded by the stresses of a very tragic and unhappy life in his later years, and he personally rejected many of the tenets of quantum theory that were being advanced by his contemporaries in the 20s despite the fact that he himself had helped establish the basics some decades earlier.
It's also possible that he happened to observe that this is in fact the case.

It's not like this is some obscure quote either - it's pretty well known, which bespeaks a resonance with many other people.

Of course, there are exceptions to everything.
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Old 08-18-2017, 10:28 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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It isn't non-experts.

A non-expert knows something about the subject; at the very least, he knows that he isn't an expert.

The problem is people who don't know or understand the first thing about the subject but who do not have the self-awareness and humility to accept that they don't know anything about it. We all make mistakes, but those of us whose pride isn't linked to never accepting we're wrong can accept that we are (on the rare occasions in which it happens ).

I had a dude in one of my projects who had been hired as "a SAP expert" despite not knowing anything about SAP. In fact, despite the people doing the hiring knowing that he didn't know anything about SAP (he'd been hired as a personal favor). Before the first meeting he went to SAP's help webpage and tried to read up on the subject: a subject that's complicated, a webpage that's specifically designed to obscure information, and in a language he didn't speak. And then he blocked up half the meeting angrily yelling that we could not use "activities", it had to be "aktivitaten!!!!!!" (meeting in English, SAP used in English, he'd been reading the help in German). Because the one thing he was not ever going to do is admit that he didn't know his SAP from his ABCs.

Last edited by Nava; 08-18-2017 at 10:30 AM.
  #28  
Old 08-18-2017, 10:33 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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You're up against the Dunning Kruger effect.
The Dunning Kruger effect is sweet. I try to constantly remind myself to not get caught up in it.

The other day I was talking to someone and I realized they were arguing their point solely because of the Dunning Kruger effect. I explained to them (as gently as possible) what was happening, but they were unable to understand/comprehend the Dunning Kruger effect, even as I pulled up the Wikipedia page and read sections to them.

I changed the subject. "Hey, how about them Steelers, huh!"
  #29  
Old 08-18-2017, 10:36 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Scientists ourselves are at least partly to blame. A lot of scientists seem to take the attitude that they have to tell the public something, and that if the truth is too complicated for the public to understand, then the next best thing is an untruth that's easier to understand. And so we get things like the molasses analogy for the Higgs field, which throws science all the way back to the Aristotelian concept of mass as impeding motion. That's not at all how the Higgs field works, and it explains exactly nothing about the real behavior of the Higgs field, and serves as a useful analogy for exactly nothing about it, too. But people can understand it, and so science popularizers who ought to know better keep repeating it, without caring how untrue it is.
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Old 08-18-2017, 10:45 AM
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And so we get things like the molasses analogy for the Higgs field, which throws science all the way back to the Aristotelian concept of mass as impeding motion. That's not at all how the Higgs field works, and it explains exactly nothing about the real behavior of the Higgs field, and serves as a useful analogy for exactly nothing about it, too. But people can understand it, and so science popularizers who ought to know better keep repeating it, without caring how untrue it is.
That's a great example. Not only is the mechanism in that analogy wrong (and actually wrong, not just in the oversimplified, lies-to-children sense), but it doesn't explain what why the Higgs was conjectured or what problem is was proposed to solve. It was quite a significant discovery and vindicated an extraordinary theory, but it's really not possible to explain that significance to laymen, and clumsy and inaccurate analogies like the one you describe don't help in the slightest.

Last edited by Itself; 08-18-2017 at 10:47 AM.
  #31  
Old 08-18-2017, 11:10 AM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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What Chronos said.

Only thing I can add, is the meme of "What the bleep do scientists know?" i.e. that science is frequently wrong, and constantly gets rewritten.
This is a popular idea, and scientists themselves sometimes, sadly, agree that this is how science works. So Bob Ordinary thinks "We only think we understand <blah>, we're probably wrong"

When you look at the details though, it's extremely rare that a theory that regularly makes accurate predictions one day gets completely jettisoned.

Most of the examples people can think of were either never formal science (e.g. geocentrism) or actually are still useful theories, just within a more limited domain and/or make less accurate predictions that a more refined or complex theory (e.g. Newton's laws of motion).
  #32  
Old 08-18-2017, 11:27 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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When you look at the details though, it's extremely rare that a theory that regularly makes accurate predictions one day gets completely jettisoned.
OTOH it's also extremely rare that a theory that regularly makes accurate predictions becomes controversial and subject to attack by non-experts. Generally the fields which feature these are those which either don't make regularly make accurate predictions, either because they make few predictions to begin with or because their predictions tend to be inaccurate (climate change comes to mind).
  #33  
Old 08-18-2017, 11:34 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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OTOH it's also extremely rare that a theory that regularly makes accurate predictions becomes controversial and subject to attack by non-experts. Generally the fields which feature these are those which either don't make regularly make accurate predictions, either because they make few predictions to begin with or because their predictions tend to be inaccurate (climate change comes to mind).
(No, it doesn't)
  #34  
Old 08-18-2017, 11:40 AM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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As you might say, that you said this doesn't make it true.

Over the course of thousands of years, an enormous amount of what scientists have believed has turned out to be incorrect. But at any point scientists have been quite confident that the consensus of science is correct. There's no reason to just assume that human nature is different now.
No one is assuming that human nature is different. What's different is the existence of the scientific method, and the accumulated body of knowledge on which it now operates.

Again, I think you're fundamentally misunderstanding what science is. I'm saying that science is evidence-based, period. That's not controversial. It is a discipline that assesses evidence based on a rigorous methodology to arrive at truths and understanding. It is nonsense to say that "Over the course of thousands of years, an enormous amount of what scientists have believed has turned out to be incorrect" since thousands of years ago there was no science and no scientists as we currently use the term. There were just some smart people speculating about things, who were sometimes right but more often wrong, because they didn't actually know anything and had no systematic methodology for discovering things. Science did not yet exist. Like some of our posters here who like to speculate about QM, what they had was philosophy, and a lot of spare time.

Whether modern science is wrong a lot as you claim turns into the question of whether the scientific method works. This has to be assessed on the basis of its success. Do we or do we not live in a technologically advanced world that has been enabled by science? Do we or do we not have amazing insights into the nature of the universe whose predictive powers have been experimentally verified countless times in countless different ways?

Those who think that scientists are "overconfident" in the correctness of some particular theory are usually folks who have no knowledge at all of the evidence that supports it, or of how science actually works to challenge, modify, and advance existing knowledge, or, as in the infamous "it's only a theory" mantra, don't even know what the word "theory" means in science. How many times have we heard that evolution is "only a theory"; anthropogenic climate change is "only a theory"? And then their inevitable zinger is, "and science has often been wrong". Such discussions with armchair pundits with zero knowledge of the subject matter are a frustrating waste of time. It's kind of why this thread was started.

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It's not like this is some obscure quote either - it's pretty well known, which bespeaks a resonance with many other people.
It bespeaks a resonance with people who don't understand science.
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Old 08-18-2017, 11:43 AM
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OTOH it's also extremely rare that a theory that regularly makes accurate predictions becomes controversial and subject to attack by non-experts.
No, not really. Quantum mechanics, relativistic physics, astrophysics, evolution and genetics and on and on have no shortage of armchair experts.

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Generally the fields which feature these are those which either don't make regularly make accurate predictions, either because they make few predictions to begin with or because their predictions tend to be inaccurate (climate change comes to mind).
Oh yes; add climate change to my list above.
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Old 08-18-2017, 11:52 AM
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OTOH it's also extremely rare that a theory that regularly makes accurate predictions becomes controversial and subject to attack by non-experts. Generally the fields which feature these are those which either don't make regularly make accurate predictions, either because they make few predictions to begin with or because their predictions tend to be inaccurate (climate change comes to mind).
Which specific scientific theory involved in climate science fails to make predictions or makes inaccurate ones? Radiative transfer theory? That seems pretty damn solid. No reasonable person disputes the quantifiable net climate forcings of greenhouse gases. The Clausius-Clapeyron relation? No one disputes that rising temperatures produce feedback effects from increased water vapor. What actual scientific theories here are non-predictive or inaccurate?
  #37  
Old 08-18-2017, 12:22 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Again, I think you're fundamentally misunderstanding what science is. I'm saying that science is evidence-based, period. That's not controversial. It is a discipline that assesses evidence based on a rigorous methodology to arrive at truths and understanding.
This is itself a fundamental misunderstanding. Something being "evidence-based" means very little. Almost anyone who has any theory about anything thinks it's "evidence-based", and this will generally be true, to one extent or another. Sometimes you have more evidence and sometimes you have less, but pretty much everyone is dealing with some sort of evidence and using that to support some theory or other.

The nature of evidence is that it can be inconclusive. Evidence is something that changes the odds of something being true, in one form or another, but unless your evidence is a message from God saying "YES MY SON YOUR THEORY IS TRUE" there's going to be some form of leap of logic in extrapolating from evidence to proof.

So just waving the term "evidence-based" as if it's some sort of magic incantation that wins arguments, and that anyone who can claim to be using "evidence-based" science can be assumed to be completely rational and objective in his extrapolations from that data, as compared to those others who for whatever reason chose to not use the superior "evidence-based" approach, is a mistake. That's not how it works.

In sum, in this context "evidence" is observations which - to one extent or another - have a bearing on the likelihood of one theory or another being true or false. But the extent to which this changes the likelihood is a subjective assessment, which is why you can frequently have disagreements among intelligent and educated people who view the same evidence. And the question here is whether theories whose evidence should support them with a likelihood of (let's say) 60% will come to be accepted as theories whose likelihood is 95% (or whatever). And what I've pointed out is that based on history it would appear that there's some natural tendency of scientists to be overconfident in the extent to which the evidence proves the prevailing consensus theory.
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
Which specific scientific theory involved in climate science fails to make predictions or makes inaccurate ones? Radiative transfer theory? That seems pretty damn solid. No reasonable person disputes the quantifiable net climate forcings of greenhouse gases. The Clausius-Clapeyron relation? No one disputes that rising temperatures produce feedback effects from increased water vapor. What actual scientific theories here are non-predictive or inaccurate?
ISTM that you're being careful in specifying and highlighting the words "scientific theory". And probably for good reason.

Frankly, I have no idea about any of this, and FTR it's not my intention here to challenge any theory or the notion that man-made global warming is real. But I have observed that while I have no reason to think the underlying science is wrong (or even whether anyone disputes any specific theories), it does appear that climate scientists have had a very difficult time constructing a climate change model which "regularly makes accurate predictions" in this area. I imagine the reason is not because of any flaw in any scientific theories, but rather because scientists constructing these models have underestimated the complexity of climate change dynamics and thus overestimated their own ability to model it. Something along those lines. But the bottom line is that those who do challenge scientific consensus on climate change - however wrong they may be - are strengthened by the fact that in this area they are not challenging a scientific consensus which has regularly made accurate predictions.
  #38  
Old 08-18-2017, 01:02 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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My original observation taken from the other thread was made because of the uncanny similarities of posters like abashed and MantraPhilter and the infinite number who insist that 0.999~ does not equal 1. They want words, which they think they can deal with, to prevail over the math they can't handle. They therefore latch on to others on the Internet who bestow that gift upon them.

This is a particular subset of the much larger tendency to reflexively reject the pronouncements of actual mainstream experts. The larger group also accuses the mainstream of having a belief system that keeps out their brilliant, fresh, new thinkers, true. This is common across all conspiracy mongers. Look up the threads about whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, e.g. A common accusation in those is that the academic community somehow conspires to keep out those with contrary judgements because... Well, because Big English, I guess. The notion that a true maverick who actually proved the mainstream wrong would be acclaimed as the greatest genius of the day is utterly rejected. That can't be true because it diminishes all their favorite mavericks who are scorned as cranks and crackpots.

Despite all the commonalities, I'm not yet sure that the math cranks aren't a separate species. They go back a long way. They may be the first body of cranks to be recognized by the scientific community as a counter-community of their own, even preceding the Shakespeare cranks. Look up the history of the circle-squarers and angle-trisectors and pi is rational crowd. Whole books have been written on them based on the illiteracies they sent to math professors, in the proverbial green crayon on butcher's paper tomes. Math is hard and requires years of study, to be sure. But many of these cranks devote so many hours to their hieroglyphics that they could pick up a good math education in that time. They simply don't want to. That would give others authority over their heads, an intolerable situation.

I don't think anything can be done to change minds like these. Refute them, dismiss them, ridicule them, patiently explain the truth, each works equally badly. Another trait we see frequently here is seeming to accept correction and then returning to their exact first crackpot post the very next time they show up, like they leave to hit a reset button. Yeah, you see that in political and religious posters as well. Maybe there really aren't any differences. They all make my head hurt.

Oh, yeah. They all hate being told that their crankness is exactly the same as all the other cranks' crankness and that their style of argument is so cliched that the ending can be predicted from the first post they go off the rails. People here, especially the ones that spend so much time repeating the same ignored refutations, might want to watch out for these tells and cut their losses earlier than they do.
Right on. My late colleague had a form letter when he got a Fermat solver's letter that said his fee for reading such a manuscript was $1000 and he guaranteed to read it till he found the first error. Of course, they never bit. I suppose they are now silenced. Same for 4 colorists. But there are still angle trisectors out there. And unlike science, mathematical truths are truths, not theories subject to possible refutation (unless it were to turn out that the axioms of mathematics were inconsistent).
  #39  
Old 08-18-2017, 01:19 PM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is online now
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Frankly, I have no idea about any of this, and FTR it's not my intention here to challenge any theory or the notion that man-made global warming is real. But I have observed that while I have no reason to think the underlying science is wrong (or even whether anyone disputes any specific theories), it does appear that climate scientists have had a very difficult time constructing a climate change model which "regularly makes accurate predictions" in this area. I imagine the reason is not because of any flaw in any scientific theories, but rather because scientists constructing these models have underestimated the complexity of climate change dynamics and thus overestimated their own ability to model it. Something along those lines. But the bottom line is that those who do challenge scientific consensus on climate change - however wrong they may be - are strengthened by the fact that in this area they are not challenging a scientific consensus which has regularly made accurate predictions.
Not so, after years of looking at that issue it is clear that the troubled predictions are mostly dealing with extreme weather events, climate change has been very accurately predicted by most scientists and even the few scientists that got it wrong in the 70's did so by overestimating the increase of particulates in the atmosphere (dark smog and other compounds that caused sun dimming)

I have to point out here that that 70's "scientists predicted that global cooling was coming" is one myth that many sources of information do not correct and continue to mislead many like you.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB3S...8FA33&index=37
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Everyone has a favorite decade, and for Climate deniers, that decade has got to be, the 70s.

Yes, the decade of disco, kung fu, and watergate

Because in the 70's, Deniers will tell you, All climate scientists believed an ice age was coming.

Those crazy climate scientists! Why can't they make up their minds?

But is that really true?
Maybe a little historical perspective is in order.
This remix is re-edited, includes better sound, and new film clips. Definitely a Christmas must-see for Uncle Dittohead and Aunt Teabag!
What is clear is (as Republican scientist Richard Alley told us) while we do have trouble to predict some results of climate change, like hurricanes or tornadoes, we already do know enough about other items like increase in global temperature, Ocean rise, Ocean acidification, intensification of droughts and an increase of the time when weather events take place were observed and confirmed. Following closely what most of the scientists told us that was going to take place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a69_owv4jEE
Quote:
It's true that Earth's a massive jigsaw puzzle, with lots of pieces intricately fitting together. But, Richard Alley argues, we already know enough to see the Big Picture. The missing pieces of scientific understanding - exactly how clouds work, how extreme weather will change with global warming - are important, but we can already see how Earth works.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 08-18-2017 at 01:24 PM.
  #40  
Old 08-18-2017, 01:26 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Originally Posted by GIGObuster View Post
Not so, after years of looking at that issue it is clear that the troubled predictions are mostly dealing with extreme weather events, climate change has been very accurately predicted by most scientists and even the few scientists that got it wrong in the 70's did so by overestimating the increase of particulates in the atmosphere (dark smog and other compounds that caused sun dimming)
I don't think you're correct about this.

Quote:
I have to point out here that that 70's "scientists predicted that global cooling was coming" is one myth that many sources of information do not correct and continue to mislead many like you.
Why don't you wait until I make some reference to supposed global cooling predictions before announcing that I've been misled by them?

Just trotting out stock refutations to things that have never been said, like some wind-up doll which can utter a few pre-set phrases whenever you pull the string, is not productive.
  #41  
Old 08-18-2017, 01:48 PM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is online now
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I don't think you're correct about this.

Why don't you wait until I make some reference to supposed global cooling predictions before announcing that I've been misled by them?

Just trotting out stock refutations to things that have never been said, like some wind-up doll which can utter a few pre-set phrases whenever you pull the string, is not productive.
I said that that 70's bit was one of them, not necessarily that you dwell on it. In any case it is one item that was reportedly driving Trump until some brave soul in his administration told him to not use that myth as he had been taken many times before by his sources. Point being that the example was brought because it relates very strongly to the OP. You may not like it, but the reality is that there are many groups that do help the Non-Experts to grow and influence people in power by repeating those myths.

So you have to clarify: what is the item they told you that was not predicted accurately or closely regarding climate science?

Last edited by GIGObuster; 08-18-2017 at 01:50 PM.
  #42  
Old 08-18-2017, 02:01 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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It's not clear what you think I've said that you're purporting to contradict.

As to your own comment, it's worth noting this observation from Max Planck:

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Originally Posted by Max Planck
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
I need to say that Planck's observation is a truism about humans generally. Since scientists are human, it also applies to them - but not as a special case.

I can easily come up with a list of areas of scientific consensus that needed a generation before the scientists and their textbooks and the public awareness of them faded away. Any of you surely can as well.

That is not, even so, the equivalent of saying that no scientists ever change their minds or acknowledge faults. Some do, some do to a certain extent, some do on a particular issue. Again, this is general for humans on all subjects.

Science operates by consensus. This is a wholly good thing. No advancement could be made without that base of understanding. Global climate change depends on consensus about a million small matters of measurement techniques, geologic history, atmospheric conditions, satellite imagery, computer programming, and the multitude of individual subdisciplines that feed more overarching models. All of them contain scientific truths that others reliably draw upon. No hypothesis about future climate change could be made without these. The alternative is not individual truths but sheer chaos.
  #43  
Old 08-18-2017, 02:09 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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I said that that 70's bit was one of them, not necessarily that you dwell on it.
You said that it "continue[s] to mislead many like you".

Quote:
In any case it is one item that was reportedly driving Trump until some brave soul in his administration told him to not use that myth as he had been taken many times before by his sources. Point being that the example was brought because it relates very strongly to the OP. You may not like it, but the reality is that there are many groups that do help the Non-Experts to grow and influence people in power by repeating those myths.

So you have to clarify: what is the item they told you that was not predicted accurately or closely regarding climate science?
If you want to debate Trump or people in his administration then you need to wait until they post here. If you want to insist that "they told" me something, wait until I post that someone told me something.

It's not worthwhile for me to discuss things with someone persists in debating claims that I've not made simply because they fit in with his rigid "us vs them" worldview. All the best.

Exapno Mapcase, I don't think I disagree with anything in your most recent post. Not sure if your intention was to dispute anything, though.
  #44  
Old 08-18-2017, 02:17 PM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is online now
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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
You said that it "continue[s] to mislead many like you".

If you want to debate Trump or people in his administration then you need to wait until they post here. If you want to insist that "they told" me something, wait until I post that someone told me something.

It's not worthwhile for me to discuss things with someone persists in debating claims that I've not made simply because they fit in with his rigid "us vs them" worldview. All the best.
Again what you said was:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps
OTOH it's also extremely rare that a theory that regularly makes accurate predictions becomes controversial and subject to attack by non-experts. Generally the fields which feature these are those which either don't make regularly make accurate predictions, either because they make few predictions to begin with or because their predictions tend to be inaccurate (climate change comes to mind).
It was not just me the one that is asking for you to clarify what was the predictions that failed, wolfpup was first, if you want to stand with the point you said later that "I have no idea about any of this" Then I suggest that indeed there is a need to drop climate science from the column of "not making accurate predictions."

Last edited by GIGObuster; 08-18-2017 at 02:18 PM.
  #45  
Old 08-18-2017, 02:23 PM
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OTOH it's also extremely rare that a theory that regularly makes accurate predictions becomes controversial and subject to attack by non-experts.
Are you serious? Cranks are obsessed with relativity and quantum mechanics, and special relativity and QED make extraordinarily precise and correct predictions.
  #46  
Old 08-18-2017, 02:23 PM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is online now
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
I need to say that Planck's observation is a truism about humans generally. Since scientists are human, it also applies to them - but not as a special case.

I can easily come up with a list of areas of scientific consensus that needed a generation before the scientists and their textbooks and the public awareness of them faded away. Any of you surely can as well.

That is not, even so, the equivalent of saying that no scientists ever change their minds or acknowledge faults. Some do, some do to a certain extent, some do on a particular issue. Again, this is general for humans on all subjects.

Science operates by consensus. This is a wholly good thing. No advancement could be made without that base of understanding. Global climate change depends on consensus about a million small matters of measurement techniques, geologic history, atmospheric conditions, satellite imagery, computer programming, and the multitude of individual subdisciplines that feed more overarching models. All of them contain scientific truths that others reliably draw upon. No hypothesis about future climate change could be made without these. The alternative is not individual truths but sheer chaos.
Well said. I have to point out that even in 10 year old text books the basics of climate science is being taught nowadays in the schools. Indeed it has been more than a generation when a consensus was reached on that issue.
  #47  
Old 08-18-2017, 02:35 PM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is online now
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Are you serious? Cranks are obsessed with relativity and quantum mechanics, and special relativity and QED make extraordinarily precise and correct predictions.
I have to add to your post here the observation that one big explanation to the OP about what can help the current situation is that we should also deal somehow with the groups that finance and keep going the presence of crank ideas.

https://www.desmogblog.com/climate-d...movement-1920s
Quote:
Jeroen van Dongen of the Institute for History and Foundations of Science at Utrecht University in Holland, writing in a recent edition of the journal, ‘Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics,’ describes the effectiveness of the movement that grew up to oppose Einstein’s theory.
Quote:
Van Dongen highlights:

“Anti-relativists… built up networks to act against Einstein’s theory in concert. This led to some success. For instance, the clamor about the theory in Germany contributed to the Nobel Committee’s delay in awarding its 1921 prize to Einstein and to the particular choice of subject for which he finally did receive it: his account of the photo-electric effect, instead of the controversial theory of relativity.”

He continues:

“Anti-relativists were convinced that their opinions were being suppressed. Indeed, many believed that conspiracies were at work that thwarted the promotion of their ideas. The fact that for them relativity was obviously wrong, yet still so very successful, strengthened the contention that a plot was at play.”
So, it does not matter indeed what branch of science, if a good number of people do see a threat to their understanding or biases they can and did help crank ideas to continue well beyond their expiration dates. Nowadays I have seen concerted attacks against relativity coming from religious groups. They do confuse the relativity in physics with the relativity in a social or moral setting.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 08-18-2017 at 02:38 PM.
  #48  
Old 08-18-2017, 03:29 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
Exapno Mapcase, I don't think I disagree with anything in your most recent post. Not sure if your intention was to dispute anything, though.
Many people had disputed the quote and I wanted to clarify the point, which nobody seemed to get quite straight.

If I had wanted to dispute anything, I would have started with this post:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
OTOH it's also extremely rare that a theory that regularly makes accurate predictions becomes controversial and subject to attack by non-experts. Generally the fields which feature these are those which either don't make regularly make accurate predictions, either because they make few predictions to begin with or because their predictions tend to be inaccurate (climate change comes to mind).
My earlier post talked about the long history of math cranks. You can't more accurate than an actual proof. Cranks love anything with the imprimatur of experts. They do not in any way, shape, or form avoid fields that make accurate predictions. That huge mistake hurried your slide down the rabbit hole of climate change predictions. One false belief inevitably leads to others.
  #49  
Old 08-18-2017, 03:38 PM
BeepKillBeep BeepKillBeep is offline
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Scientists ourselves are at least partly to blame. A lot of scientists seem to take the attitude that they have to tell the public something, and that if the truth is too complicated for the public to understand, then the next best thing is an untruth that's easier to understand. And so we get things like the molasses analogy for the Higgs field, which throws science all the way back to the Aristotelian concept of mass as impeding motion. That's not at all how the Higgs field works, and it explains exactly nothing about the real behavior of the Higgs field, and serves as a useful analogy for exactly nothing about it, too. But people can understand it, and so science popularizers who ought to know better keep repeating it, without caring how untrue it is.
I had hoped the thread wouldn't become about a specific scientific theory, e.g. climate change, although I kind of thought it might go that way. Climate change is a good example of what Chronos is talking about. For non-experts, which includes me although I try to stay informed by reading journal papers on it, the way climate change is reported to the public does the actual research no justice. All of the depth and rigor is lost resulting in a shallow representation that is attacked by climate change deniers. Additionally, climate change, much more so that the Higgs field, suffers from being politicized making the situation much worse.
  #50  
Old 08-18-2017, 03:40 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
My earlier post talked about the long history of math cranks. You can't more accurate than an actual proof. Cranks love anything with the imprimatur of experts. They do not in any way, shape, or form avoid fields that make accurate predictions. That huge mistake hurried your slide down the rabbit hole of climate change predictions. One false belief inevitably leads to others.
I wasn't talking about cranks, just lay non-experts. Cranks tend to be nuts with mental issues, and all bets are off. (In addition, I wasn't talking about mathematical proof, but about successful predictions, but that distinction is not tremendously important.)
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