Why Does No One Ever Discuss Science? page 2

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You said, “You can only have valid opinions if you are well-versed with the subject and the evidence.”

But then again…
“Many people can have a worthwhile debate about evolution, not because they are or are not officially trained in evolutionary biology (…)” – HolyLasagna

[N]ew scientific discoveries into the use of embryonic stem cells (or the advancement in the use of adult stem cells) shifts the ethical conversation.

SOME aspects of the ethical debate surrounding cloning would only be possible to debate about if the debaters knew the processes of cloning, of course (such as the risks of malformation, or something). They do not need to have a degree in that science, but merely to be acquainted with it.

just a brief, Google search shows me that the notion of “there is no creationist argument” is wrong.

There is a creationist argument in the same sense that there is no Big Foot argument. I just don’t consider it an argument, for it has no validity at all. It’s not like there’s two sides of the issue to be considered.

 
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What’s the point of discussing global warming if the other guy doesn’t have the slightest clue of how scientists actually got to the conclusion that the Earth is warming mostly because of us?

Make it an AX: Anthropic Global Warming is True. Topic could be what would be needed to reverse or stall it?

That is the truth – but what is your point?

It was in response to your suggestion about only using topics that are considered open to debate by the scientific community. Those topics you used for examples suck. They suck because they are needlessly academic. But Dawkins and Gould were able to enter public consciousness by bringing in scientific topics that were approachable to the public as well as relevant (ie. the selfish gene).

my point is not invalidated by it. =]

Correct. I had thought, however, that as a science person yourself, you’d be in a better position than myself to have an idea for interesting science topics that weren’t completely unfeasible, like time-travel.

 
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Make it an AX: Anthropic Global Warming is True. Topic could be what would be needed to reverse or stall it?

That’s a good one.


Time-travel debates require extensive knowledge about competing quantum mechanics interpretations and GR… care to explain how that debate would work out with the average SDer? :P

 
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That’s why I mentioned it. It’s a topic people think they know a lot about but not much even remotely scientific. It’s not a great topic for this purpose.

On the other hand, Michael Crichton did a short (10 page) bit about Quantum Mechanics for his time travel book Timeline a few years ago. Enough to get a decent grounder. He did something similar with Chaos Theory (which would be an excellent topic IMO) for Jurassic Park.

 
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Originally posted by HolyLasagna:

There is a creationist argument in the same sense that there is no Big Foot argument. I just don’t consider it an argument, for it has no validity at all. It’s not like there’s two sides of the issue to be considered.

Biased much?

Look, you’re not a creationist and probably not a religious person; I get that. But you’re also outright dismissing a separate school of thought by flatly saying, “You’re wrong.”

I’m glad you brought up the Bigfoot example—this is yet another urban legend, mystery, whatever you want to call it, that has neither been proved or disproved. New stuff pops up all the time. Same with aliens, mothman prophecies, and so on. And the point is, there is no real way (at least at this time) to prove or disprove so much of this. There are undoubtedly thousands of species on earth, both on dry terrain and in the sea, that valid scientists have not yet discovered, and they admit this:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/11/15/two-thirds-of-ocean-life-remains-undiscovered-

Food for thought.

 
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See, no offense to either side, but this is the sort of science discussion that I’d rather avoid.

 
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Twilight_Ninja’s post

Sorry. I lol’d at your words.


Here is a reply to Janto, who is the kind of guy who sends PMs to people he muted. Nice one, bud. :P

I would say that there is a common source for all those things (religiosity, obnoxious conservatism, mysticism, etc.): a specially faulty application of reason – that is, a lack of skeptical rigor in their thinking.
Which I find funny, because there are a lot of good scientists out there (e.g. Francis Collins, Georges Lemaître) who are also very pious. And they’re not the kind that actually know much about the “sophisticated” Christian apologetics, they just have blind faith. I wonder how the fuck does that work.
Did you know that belief in the paranormal is not uncommon among the members of Mensa society?
"

 
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Fine Lasagna. Forget it.

 
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Here is a reply to Janto, who is the kind of guy who sends PMs to people he muted. Nice one, bud. :P

oops. That was from awhile ago. I’ve unmuted you now. I didn’t realize you could still send pms to people you mute.

I would say that there is a common source for all those things (religiosity, obnoxious conservatism, mysticism, etc.): a specially faulty application of reason – that is, a lack of skeptical rigor in their thinking.
Which I find funny, because there are a lot of good scientists out there (e.g. Francis Collins, Georges Lemaître) who are also very pious. And they’re not the kind that actually know much about the “sophisticated” Christian apologetics, they just have blind faith. I wonder how the fuck does that work.
Did you know that belief in the paranormal is not uncommon among the members of Mensa society?
"

Interesting. Is that your remark or someone you’re quoting?

I think it’s possible to have a discussion about paranormal stuff, even cryptozoological, hell, even the idea of an intelligent creationism…but not here. We can barely have a science discussion here (hence why I opened with this thread rather than start one on the cuff). For the internet, the only way I can see to do it is either by vetting certain people to participate, or by setting up simple ground rules beforehand.

I mean…No offense twilight, but Bigfoot’s a cultural myth. All that stuff you said about cryptozoology is true…but only under a certain context. The ocean can hide undiscovered fish (coelacanths), and bugs and small lizards are easy to miss, even in north america. But a nine foot ape walking around the Appalachians? Cryptozoology always goes for the big stuff, not realizing how extremely unlikely they are. Mothman I think has already been mostly proven as resulting from mass hysteria. And as much as I can respect christian theology, I have a hard time calling creationism a ‘valid school of thought’.

 
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Is that your remark or someone you’re quoting?

It’s mine.

There is a quote by Michael Shermer, in the Introduction of his 1997 book, which states that “smart people believe weird things because they are good at defending what they arrived at by non-smart reasons”, or something of sorts. That’s also an interesting thought.

The last chapter of that book is dedicated to explaining in more detail (as in a few dozen pages long explanation) of why smart people believe weird things. I can explain it to you once I get there (I should be there by Friday night, since I started this book yesterday).

 
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I see that on 9th May this year, the US Congress held a hearing on exoplanet discoveries. Now I know how to search for UK Parliamentary records of all kinds, but Congress seems to be particularly obtuse in this regard, and I have just wasted the last half an hour or so looking for a transcript of the hearing. Perhaps it’s just me.

Anyway, I don’t imagine that Representatives are any more clued up on the subject than any of us, yet that did not stop them going for it unashamedly. This is the best I could come up with, and unsurprisingly it seems that they were more interested in how much it’s going to cost than in what we can learn from these discoveries or how they may affect us in the future.

But the point is, if they can discuss science, if only for ignoble reasons, why can’t we? It does seem a bit negative and wussy to abandon any attempt just because it may be problematical.

 
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Originally posted by Jantonaitis:

I mean…No offense twilight, but Bigfoot’s a cultural myth. All that stuff you said about cryptozoology is true…but only under a certain context. The ocean can hide undiscovered fish (coelacanths), and bugs and small lizards are easy to miss, even in north america. But a nine foot ape walking around the Appalachians? Cryptozoology always goes for the big stuff, not realizing how extremely unlikely they are. Mothman I think has already been mostly proven as resulting from mass hysteria. And as much as I can respect christian theology, I have a hard time calling creationism a ‘valid school of thought’.

Well, that’s true….the big versus the small stuff. And maybe the paranormal does belong in a separate thread.

I hate to take the creationism bite, since you didn’t want the thread going off like this, but when people say they don’t believe in creationism, does that automatically exclude Christian beliefs? Or can the two be disparate?

 
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I hate to take the creationism bite, since you didn’t want the thread going off like this, but when people say they don’t believe in creationism, does that automatically exclude Christian beliefs? Or can the two be disparate?

Catholics aren’t creationists (usually) so, no. But I think the larger problem is that creationism/intelligent design is often just a smokescreen to make Genesis look scientific. As I say, there’s certainly a case to be made for intelligent design…but not one with any connection to a religion, or relying too heavily on God of the Gaps (using lack of scientific knowledge as a crutch for maintaining belief in a creator). The problem there is that what you end up with is agnostic deism – a God that made the cosmos but is indifferent to human beings – which is pretty useless for Christian thought.

 
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I think I figured out why we don’t discuss science on this board…

Every discussion always winds up being some political or religious banter.

 
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Originally posted by Jantonaitis:

This is an odd topic.

It seems as though we never discuss any questions of scientific or mathematical import. I mean, we discuss global warming, but the politics of it, not really the science. The science no one really understands. We can point to experts who do, but not get into it ourselves.

There are a few exceptions. Vika always has a science-y topic up her sleeve, but again, we aren’t there to provide her scientific commentary as much as a layman’s approach, again, for the politics or social scope of say, heat vision. I recall Darkbaron introduced a math thread once, something to do with Fibonacci, but it was a long time ago and, in any case, he was an ass about it.

This goes beyond the internet of course. I can only think of one time in college where I ever had an informal discussion about science, and it was more of a “topic for when you’re high” then anything substantial. Neither my friend nor I knew much about science, but we were discussing whether black holes could take ‘snapshots’ of whatever passes near its event horizon, like a million year-old UFO cruising by.

Is science that much more complicated than any other topic? I’ve seen philosophy discussed on here before, even though people who actually know something about it are rare. Maybe it’s harder to bullshit about science than social topics, or the arts. Or maybe there’s just nothing really to talk about. I mean, how would it work?

“Say, what do you think about gluons? All they’re cracked up to be?”
“Nah, quarks are where it’s at for me. That shit’s small!”

Thoughts?

Post a science related topic instead of whining about the lack thereof. I love science, but seeing as how through the art of collusion, only a certain few people are allowed to actually start threads here at Kongregate, start your own science thread.

 
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Originally posted by Jantonaitis:

Maybe it’s harder to bullshit about science than social topics, or the arts.

It is when you’re discussing it with others who know what they’re talking about. When it comes to the laws there’s only going to be one right answer after all. Theories again, its hard to argue the main ones because they explain and align with so many of the laws, there’s very little left to argue save for where things are still fuzzy, on the fringes.

It is a case of it being a subject where a bullshit artist is quickly and readily identified.

The only real way to discuss it is in the application of science. Tying discoveries about the mechanics into other situations, or asking about the ethics of applying this technology or that technology, or whether boon A offsets major known drawback B.

Most of the tech threads I’ve created follow that trend. I’m looking for views on a given (sometimes but not always just theoretical) application of knowledge and how it would affect the status quo, or how it would change our perception of subject X, or society in general.

This is after all a gaming site, and therein lays its strength. Many of the participants or potential participants are kids. They’re not going to have a lot of subject-specific knowledge, but they are likely to have fast-thinking brains, and be capable of generating off the wall ideas that a more traditional audience would never think of. That’s always been the primary draw of the Kong forums for me personally. An easily accessible chance to dip into that pool of wackiness, and see what usable possibilities emerge.

Both science and technology are by nature things that don’t lend themselves well to random wikipedia browsing. You have to know the basics in order to know what to search for. More than that, you have to know which theories are discarded, and why they were discarded. Internet browsing isn’t going to give you that. You’re going to get random papers from the last few years, sorted by relevancy to your query, and you’re not going to know which are speaking hogwash, without knowing the intricacies of the subject youself.

The further you go into the subject, the worse it gets. The more knowledge is required to discuss intelligently, and the more apparent it becomes to someone who has studied for years, when another person is talking out of their ass.

Think helltank and his therapist in this. His claiming he knows as much about medicine as she does, because he’s read Wikipedia. On the surface that works, but as the topics become ever deeper and more specialised, that kind of knowledge fades. He knows what Wikipedia said, but he doesn’t understand why or how it works, and he cannot switch easily from the way the encyclopedia delivered the subject to its applications when viewed from another direction. Worse, as he’s only got an overview, as the conversation demands more and more specifics, his gaps in knowledge become ever more difficult to ignore.

I would never start a thread on Kong to discuss the ramifications of the hierarchical override structure in different types of human nociceptors, because chances are even if I was able to explain it simply enough for the general layperson to follow, they would not be able to give meaningful answers back, because they haven’t studied the branching mechanisms of the peripheral nervous system in general, nor are they familiar with the various gating theories – and unless they already know of them, how could they ever search for them?

On the other hand I would start a thread on the consequences of full body embodiment within a virtual environment, and whether the potential real and lasting negative consequences of long-term embodiment in a non-human form impacting in your reduced ability to control your actual physical form as well as you used to is worth it to you. (Obviously in rather more words than that, as it requires a lot of breaking down into bite-sized chunks to ensure the layperson understands what I’m on about.)

With that second type of thread you don’t really need a lot of the science knowledge of how an interface that allows full embodiment would work, what its limitations would be, yadda yadda yadda. Once the positive and negative implications are explained in a form that’s easily understandable, and easy to relate to from a common perspective, then the debate can begin in earnest.

How would this affect me. What would such an ability give me. What would it take away from me. Is it worth it in my case?

All these sorts of questions start going through the minds of those reading the thread, and once it is personal; once they can relate to it, the discussion flows better. Those of us who understand the science can put that back in later, as the end-user’s comments and perspectives begin to take form. They don’t need to know the in-depth specifics of fooling the brainstem with fake feedback signals to still discuss the implications of the science and how it might affect their world, and everything they hold dear. What it would change for them, their livelihoods, others they hold dear or simply know.

Pure science does not lend itself well to a good debate. You have to apply it to something else first, then you have room for opinion and perspective, whilst still remaining true to the science itself.

 
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Thanks vika. I think that about does it.

/thread