12
   

The American Public vs. AAAS Scientists

 
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 12:12 pm
@Kolyo,
Question for Olivier and Kolyo,

Do either of you see any value to having an understanding of the science and math involved behind these findings (even outside of your field of expertise)?

The climatologists explain their findings in mathematical terms such as "distributions" and "derivatives" and "exponential decay". These mathematical terms are understood by every scientist. Having a scientific degree means that you have experience using complicated math (including integral calculus) to analyze data and to explain findings. I find this useful.

Is there any value to applying scientific literacy to your understanding of what climatologists are saying?

Is there any value to having a scientifically literate public in general?

If scientific literacy has no value, then I suppose these findings are irrelevant.

Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 12:40 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
Is there any value to applying scientific literacy to your understanding of what climatologists are saying?

Is there any value to having a scientifically literate public in general?

If scientific literacy has no value, then I suppose these findings are irrelevant.

The mathematical tools used in climatology are quite different from those used say in genetics. What a scientific education brings is a good understanding of the scientific method(s) used in their general 'field' of study, eg natural sciences, social sciences, etc. ,+ an overview of which science studies what within that field, + the history of scientific discovery in this broad field, + respect and trust in the above. So they know something more re. sciences that are related to their specialty than lay people, yes, but next to nothing about other sciences that are less immediately connected.

Scientific literacy brings the same advantages as above, most importantly a degree of interest and curiosity towards sciences, which is IMO a good thing.

In the example of climate change, any chemist/physicist can tell you that the basic idea that CO2 traps heat more than O2 is validated by experience in his field, and can describe approximately the evidence for CC and the procedures at play to collect, validate and interpret it. But the biggest difference with John Doe out there is that they tend to trust science and think of their fellow scientists as good, smart guys, not as liars or fools.

In short, the philosophical attitude towards science is what's determinant, whether you trust it or not.
jft2
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 02:54 pm
@edgarblythe,
I think scientists are mainly silent on atheism because spiritualism (believe in God) is not something that can be proven or disproven by scientific methods.

The reason I believe that atheists are more rational in their thought processes, is that rational people think more about this basic question than 'believers', who simply believe it's true from childhood and never seek to question the existence of a God.
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 03:02 pm
@jft2,
This thread is not intended for discussing atheism. I just mentioned it as one possibility. The fact people focus on it so quickly sort of proves my point.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 05:34 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
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 bold-faced statement (as well as the one which preceded it) are not statements of your suspicion, they are ipse dixit statements of "fact." Upon what basis do you make such a claim? You blather about science all of the time, and yet i see you repeatedly making statements and inferential claims without providing the least basis of evidence. I don't find you to be very damned scientific.

As another example, you have no authority to define the term atheists. There are atheists who don't assert that there is no god, who simply state that they don't believe there is. Their attitudes are not conditioned by your phony statements from authority.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 05:39 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
What about the atheists who doubt science?


Which atheists would those be, Mr. Science? What variety of atheist are they? Did you know there is more than one type of atheists? (Did you know there is more than one type of theist?) What evidence do you have for such a group? I note that you have never responded to my question about DDT.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 05:44 pm
By the way, Max has made atheists relevant by his wild and completely unsubstantiated supposition that atheists are "overrepresented" among those who oppose GMOs and pesticides. Given that he started this thread to display his snotty contempt for those who don't think as he does, it's pathetic (and typical) to see him trotting out a raft of unsupported claims and suppositions.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 07:44 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta,

My only point on thread is that there is nothing special about atheists as a group. Other than the fact that they don't believe in a god, there is nothing else that distinguishes them as a group. On other threads you have consistently said that the only thing you can say about atheists is that we don't believe in any god.

I am only saying that other that not believing in any god, atheists are no different than any other human being. On this thread you seem to disagree with that statement.

Which is it, Setanta? Are atheists just human beings who don't believe in a god (and other than that are just like any other group of human beings). Or are you now saying that there is more to atheism than that?
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 07:57 pm
@Olivier5,
Quote:
The mathematical tools used in climatology are quite different from those used say in genetics.


No they are not. Statistics are statistics. Integrals are Integral. Partial differential equations are partial differential equations. Modelling is modelling.

In any university, the math courses taken by scientists are the same (with the possible exception of linear algebra) whether you study physics, engineering, chemistry, epidemiology or climatology. I am curious. Do you have a science degree? I would love to compare notes with you about what math you have taken.

Math is math. It doesn't differ by specialty.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 08:02 pm
@maxdancona,
I have studied math extensively. The only bit that I'm using professionally is statistics. I wouldn't be able to check the veracity of climate change models though. Do you think you could?
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 08:08 pm
@Olivier5,
Someone who has studied advanced math, like integral calculus and partial differential equations, will understand more than someone without this training. Of course the climatologist is the real expert... but someone with scientific training will understand more than someone without a scientific background,

I would also say this about other fields. Someone who has been to law school for patent law will have an easier time understanding a paper on family law that I will (since I have had zero legal training).

Do you agree with this?


Kolyo
 
  3  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 10:10 pm
@maxdancona,
So far the only argument I've heard in favor on GMO safety is that all breeding is genetic modification.

No math involved in making that argument. You don't have to be a Fields winner to make it, to understand it, or to rebut it.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 10:23 pm
@Kolyo,
Quote:
So far the only argument I've heard in favor on GMO safety is that all breeding is genetic modification.


You clearly already have made up your mind on the topic without understanding all of the arguments against the position you are taking. I hope you understand that this is a problem.

There have been number scientific studies on the topic (that include the usual mathematical analysis). There is a general consensus among food scientists that GMOs on the market are as safe as any other type of food.

I suggest that you read a little more on the topic. You could start here (from the AMA). There are similar position papers supporting the safety of GMO to any other food sources from the WHO, the National Acadamies and many other reputable scientific organizations.

http://factsaboutgmos.org/sites/default/files/AMA%20Report.pdf
Kolyo
 
  3  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 10:34 pm
You're right. Ultimately I don't have much more faith in "consensus" among scientists than I have in consensus among economists. The reason I think they mainly agree is that it's easier for the individual scientist to listen to what those around him are saying than it is to hash it out for himself. In general it's easier to make the grade in science when you accept things than when you question them. I don't think that many of them understand the nuances of their theories, and to express doubt about what the majority says will get you ridiculed. Finally, I doubt them because of where their funding often comes from. The main reason I support them on climate change is because I believe it's better to be cautious about things like that.
Kolyo
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 10:37 pm
@maxdancona,
BTW, when you have two planets of the same density, and one has double the radius of the other,
the gravitational force on the surface of the larger planet is only twice what it is on the smaller planet.
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 10:51 pm
@Kolyo,
Kolyo wrote:

You're right. Ultimately I don't have much more faith in "consensus" among scientists than I have in consensus among economists. The reason I think they mainly agree is that it's easier for the individual scientist to listen to what those around him are saying than it is to hash it out for himself. In general it's easier to make the grade in science when you accept things than when you question them. I don't think that many of them understand the nuances of their theories, and to express doubt about what the majority says will get you ridiculed. Finally, I doubt them because of where their funding often comes from. The main reason I support them on climate change is because I believe it's better to be cautious about things like that.


When pressed, a scientist should be able to acknowledge that scientific knowledge is always tentative and open to revision with the addition of new data. Observation-based science is inherently inferential and inference only leads to probabilistic conclusions, not absolute certainty. Claiming certainty from inferential premises would be a structurally flawed argument. Certainty is reserved for deductive conclusions. The degree of certainty in an inferential conclusion might be asymptotic, however.

For me, that means that I don't take what anybody - scientists or otherwise - as 100% certain. I do tend to trust scientific conclusions over those of laymen, though, in the same way that I don't go to a podiatrist for my toothache or to the florist to find out why my motorcycle won't start.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 10:56 pm
@Kolyo,
If what you are saying were true, Kolyo, then the scientific establishment would turn out to be incorrect more often. In fact, scientists are correct in their predictions (made by consensus) a fantastic amount of time (with a very few exceptions).

Airplanes fly as designed. Vaccines reduce disease as expected. Foods considered by scientists are very likely to be safe. Climate change predictions are very accurate. Feared Ebola outbreaks that scientists say won't happen in Western countries don't happen in western countries.

In my opinion, the problem is not scientific consensus among scientists (which is proven correct in the vast number of cases with an extremely low number of error). The problem is scientific illiteracy by non-scientists.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 10:59 pm
@FBM,
Quote:
When pressed, a scientist should be able to acknowledge that scientific knowledge is always tentative and open to revision with the addition of new data.


Scientists do this. For example in the anti-science Ebola outbreak (an example that obviously frustrated me) the scientists did say that an epidemic in western countries is impossible. They said that it is extremely unlikely. This is the responsible thing to say.

But understand that extremely unlikely accurately portrays the risk as insignificant. This is also correct.
Kolyo
 
  2  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 10:59 pm
@FBM,
FBM wrote:

For me, that means that I don't take what anybody - scientists or otherwise - as 100% certain. I do tend to trust scientific conclusions over those of laymen, though, in the same way that I don't go to a podiatrist for my toothache or to the florist to find out why my motorcycle won't start.


In the past, you would have been better served to seek the help of a florist to cure your hypothetical wife's nervous condition than the help of a trained psychiatrist. Flowers would have done her more good than a lobotomy.
Kolyo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2015 11:00 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

If what you are saying were true, Kolyo, then the scientific establishment would turn out to be incorrect more often. In fact, scientists are correct in their predictions (made by consensus) a fantastic amount of time (with a very few exceptions).


What do you think about my point about gravitational force?
 

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