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The American Public vs. AAAS Scientists

 
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 06:58 am
I found this interesting...

http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2015/01/PI_2015-01-29_science-and-society-00-01.png

http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/
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Type: Discussion • Score: 12 • Views: 4,709 • Replies: 105

 
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 08:59 pm
@maxdancona,
I read about this as well. Unfortunately I wasn't very surprised at the result.

I was listening to a radio show the other day and they had a guest speaker from the CDC who was there to talk about vaccinations. One of the callers was a lady who started out her comment by saying "I don't trust anything the government says or does". She then went on to claim that she would never let her kids get more than one vaccination at once. She was convinced that vaccination "loading" as she called it was risky and untested (probably because her neighbor Betty told her so). The guest from the CDC explained that concurrent vaccination testing was a standard practice but the lady wouldn't believe him. She angrily challenged him to estimate how many times it had been tested and he replied "hundreds if not thousands of times" and went on to explain in detail about concomitant drug testing and the rigorous standards. But the lady would have none of it. Her answer after he explained everything was a haughty, "I don't believe you!".

And I believe "trust" is really the core problem we have here in the US when it comes to science. Most people don't understand enough about science to know what to believe, but to make things worse, there is a deep level of distrust in government and in information in general.

And when you think about it, "trust" is a key factor for most of us in what we believe. Even those of us who understand science well don't really understand all specialties well enough to evaluate their veracity. Instead, we trust certain sources, or we trust our own ability to link together verifiable information which exposes reliable sources.

So while I blame a lack of education on a lot of the disagreement with science, I also see the general level of distrust in information sources and government as another key cause.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  4  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 09:09 pm
Perhaps people cannot trust the political arm of government and many are afraid of atheists and it bleeds over into mistrust of everything else.
jespah
 
  3  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 09:14 pm
FYI AAAS is the American Associations for the Advancement of Science.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 09:24 pm
@edgarblythe,
I don't think this has anything to do with Atheism Edgar. The fear of GM foods and pesticides are generally liberal issues... and I suspect that atheists are over-represented in the people who reject the science on these issues.
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  2  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 09:36 pm
What surprises me is that so many otherwise intelligent people get caught up in one or more of these science denials. Bill Maher, for example, is a vaccine denier. A good friend of mine had a daughter a couple of years ago and mentioned that he would only get her vaccinated for a few diseases, not the full spectrum recommended. His reason? He just had a vague feeling that (whatever number of vaccines they recommend) was too many. That's it. No science, just a vague feeling. Another guy and I grilled him for a couple of hours over it. Not sure if he ever got her fully vaccinated.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 05:58 am
I consider it absolutely ludicrous to assert that atheists are "overrepresented" among those who mistrust GM foods. As for mistrust of pesticides, that's a sufficiently vague topic that i'm not surprised to see Max just throwing it out there. Tell us about DDT, Max . . .
maxdancona
 
  -2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 08:00 am
@Setanta,
For the record Setanta, I didn't assert anything. I merely stated my suspicion.

My point is that people are sometimes choose preexisting belief and superstition over reason. This is true of theists. This is also true of atheists.

The term "atheist" simply means someone who believes that there is no god. This doesn't make atheists any more rational or prone to logical thought than anyone else.
jft2
 
  3  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 08:29 am
@maxdancona,
" This doesn't make atheists any more rational or prone to logical thought than anyone else."

It's very likely that atheists are more prone to rational thoughts.
Certainly more thoughtful than someone who believes everything they were told in Sunday School and have never questioned it, at all.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 08:38 am
@jft2,
In my experience, atheists don't seem any more rational or prone to logical thought than anyone else. That's just my impression, I don't have any data to support or challenge that. Do you?

People on this forum have hammered on the point that "Atheists are simply people don't believe in any god". Atheists can be anti-vaxxers, or believe in reincarnation, or be afraid of genetically modified food, or deny global warming. The only thing linking atheists is that they don't believe in God.

Do you think Atheism is more than that?
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 08:41 am
For the record, I had zero intention of this becoming another Atheism thread.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  5  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 08:44 am
Beyond their personal area of competence, scientists are just as clueless as anybody else. I can listen to a climatologist on global warming but chances are his or her opinions on GMOs are just as uninformed as mine.
FBM
 
  3  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 09:02 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Beyond their personal area of competence, scientists are just as clueless as anybody else. I can listen to a climatologist on global warming but chances are his or her opinions on GMOs are just as uninformed as mine.


This is true, in my experience. Smart people are not smart in everything, just in what they're smart at. Not that I'm particularly smart in any area, but I know dick all about, for example, economics, foreign policy or how to buy a vacuum cleaner in Kazakhstan.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 09:03 am
@Olivier5,
I disagree Olivier,

Scientists in general are trained to base opinions on evidence and data. I think this is valuable even outside of one's field, and I think this is a skill that is in short supply in the general public.

The recent Ebola outbreak is a good example. The facts coming from the experts were pretty conclusive that was no significant chance of an Ebola outbreak in the US. The experts gave the specific details and facts, all in the open, using their expertise.

Someone with the ability to think scientifically can question the facts from the scientists and confirm or dispute them.

Many people either discard the opinions of the scientists without reason, or just ignore them outright.
Olivier5
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 09:10 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
Someone with the ability to think scientifically can question the facts from the scientists and confirm or dispute them.

Not really, since one cannot assess the strength of the evidence without a thorough training on the subject matter.

What we should respect in scientists is their competence, which by definition is limited to their area of competence.
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 09:22 am
@Olivier5,
As long as you listen to the epidemiologists about epidemiology, and the climatologists about climatology, I suppose that is fine.

I still disagree with you.

There is a learned skill of looking at arguments and data coming from outside of your field and deciding if the given facts being used support the conclusion. Not very much of the public does this in a reasoned way.

Scientists from one field often talk to scientists from another field in a shared language. An expert in epidemiology knows the scientific method and understands what is needed for conclusive evidence the same as an expert in climatology. They also understand mathematics from statistics to partial differential equations. They have shared language that most of the public don't even try to grasp.

So yes, when an epidemiologist talks to a climatologist about global warming, she will have a much deeper understanding than someone in the general public about the climatologist's reasoning and conclusion, and they will be in a much better position to intelligently question them.

I think that we as a society would do much better if more people could think scientifically.
Olivier5
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 10:25 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
As long as you listen to the epidemiologists about epidemiology, and the climatologists about climatology, I suppose that is fine.

Yes, that is quite fine. I care for a specialist, well informed opinion. I couldn't care less what a nuclear scientist thinks about GMOs. Chances are I know more on this topic than he does.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 10:36 am
The reason I inserted atheism into the thread at all is because those who doubt science seem to consider science as an atheistic proposition, although science is pretty silent on the subject.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 11:10 am
@edgarblythe,
What about the atheists who doubt science?
Kolyo
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 11:43 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Beyond their personal area of competence, scientists are just as clueless as anybody else. I can listen to a climatologist on global warming but chances are his or her opinions on GMOs are just as uninformed as mine.


My view.
 

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