Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

Discussion in 'Human Potential, Self Discovery' started by Udarnik, May 1, 2015.

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  1. Teanntás

    Teanntás Silver Meritorious Patron

    It was the original poster that referred to medical and scientific dissenters from orthodoxy as loons, quacks, and cranks - the tone was set. If anything is woo it must be comparing these scientists, some Nobel Laureates, to L Ron Hubbard.

    Regardless of anyone's views of these scientists, why would anyone mention Hubbard in the same breath?

  2. Intentionally Blank

    Intentionally Blank Scientology Widow

    ESMB is a big place. Might it make more sense to start another thread discussing those things that are near and dear to you?
  3. Udarnik

    Udarnik Gold Meritorious Patron

    I actually quite like the "derails" because they are an illustration of some of what I'm talking about. I just wish I had more time to make quality follow-up posts.
    Last edited: May 20, 2015
  4. oneonewasaracecar

    oneonewasaracecar Gold Meritorious Patron

    From what I've seen threads about skepticism end up being hijacked by the very people who don't do skepticism so I'm not sure starting another thread would help.

    That being said, every thread on here ends up getting hijacked, so I guess it doesn't matter overly.
  5. oneonewasaracecar

    oneonewasaracecar Gold Meritorious Patron

    I was doing that in January.

    No one has that much time.


    You're right, the derails are surely illustrative.
  6. Intentionally Blank

    Intentionally Blank Scientology Widow

    Just consider my suggestion a derail :biggrin:

    Time? What is that?? Only MESTies deal in time ..... :hysterical:
  7. cleared cannibal

    cleared cannibal Silver Meritorious Patron

    There is probably whole threads I miss in which I would be interested because I don't always get the chance to check in every day or I don't have time to go through all of them since my last log in. I have found the titles do not always indicate my degree of interest so I may never open some I should.
  8. Intentionally Blank

    Intentionally Blank Scientology Widow

    I have a suggestion. I know, when I teach even basic level critical thinking skills, folks don't have a clue as to what it means to evaluate information or the sources from which it came. Numbers (like stats), are particularly mind boggling for a lot of people. It would be tremendously helpful, I think, if one of you brainiac folks (Udarnik and Racecar, I'm lookin' at you) would offer a very basic outline (think: 4th graders) or checklist of how to begin to evaluate sources and information. and then I will plagiarize it for my students.....

  9. SPsince83

    SPsince83 Silver Meritorious Patron

    Indeed. You have a knack for bringing difficult concepts down to the "cartoon level" and yet are still poorly understood. I think a lot of it comes down to the subjects that are the Scylla and Charybdis of many a science student such as calculus, organic chemistry and pretty much any second year science classes. They do a lot of weeding out of people who wind up in business classes and think money trumps science or whatever and who become critics of actual scientists that do actual science. They tend to know enough jargon to sound like they know something but it's all poorly understood, if at all.

    To see what happens when the scientific community gets a hold of a hoax, look at the cold fusion kerfuffle from the late 80s. Nobody could replicate the results and the subject died in actual science. The woomeisters are still working at it though. No amount of science has been able to stop woo. Some people will just believe bullshit at the drop of a hat and everyone is capable of believing a given nonspecific bullturd from time to time, cf Linus Pauling and vitamin C. Or me and Elwrong's nonsense:duh:
  10. Student of Trinity

    Student of Trinity Silver Meritorious Patron

    That would be great, all right. But I don't think it's always possible to tell how good a source is just by looking at it. People who are absolutely full of crap can sound very smart. People can state nonsense and falsehoods with conviction and clarity. Some authorities with impressive credentials are nonetheless badly wrong. And on the other hand, people who are dead right can come across poorly.

    If you already know some stuff that a source discusses, you can evaluate that. If the source is sound about the stuff you know, then it might still be badly wrong about other stuff, but you can legitimately feel a bit better about the source's reliability. If the source is wrong about the stuff you know, then it might still be right about other stuff; but you can conclude that the source is unreliable, because whoever wrote it has been proven capable of talking crap.

    Of course, you mostly want to look at sources to learn something you don't already know. You can't always be lucky enough to find a source that happens to mention some things you do know, so you can use them as a reliability gauge. If the whole thing is new to you, one option is to consult a lot of different sources on the the same topic, and hope that the majority consensus is probably right. This only works if you get a fair sample; if the reference works you consult are all from the library of your local Ku Klux Klan, you'll seem to find racism as a clear consensus. And in any case it takes a lot of reading.

    If you can get an interactive source, then asking questions is a great way to check reliability. Maybe you can ask the source about the relationship between the topic that's new to you and a topic you already know. Failing that, it works surprisingly well to just be nosy. Ask whatever question strikes you, like a shamelessly prying relative. The effect is to look at the topic from multiple sides, instead of passively accepting the perspective being offered. That's no problem for truth, which is solid from any angle. But pretense and delusion usually only look good from one perspective, and as soon as you take a different angle, you see how flimsy they are.

    If it's a matter not of catching fraud or idiocy, but of gauging just how good a good source is, one thing I like to do is probe the limits of the source's knowledge. Push until they say, "I don't know." Everyone's knowledge has limits, but I'm impressed by people whose knowledge limits are gradual rather than sharp. They don't pass suddenly, between one question and the next, from confident detail to total ignorance. Instead they gradually become vaguer or less sure. The reason I like this is that it shows that the source themselves have tried to push their understanding further, and thought about its limits. That makes me more ready to believe that when they think they know for sure, they maybe do.

    Fourth-graders don't know much, unfortunately. Maybe there aren't even too many subjects on which they know enough to ask questions.

    Maybe the best exercise in critical thinking I can imagine for fourth-graders would involve how they assess each other's reliability. Does Jimmy believe what Sally tells him? Why, or why not? Maybe you could avoid hurting kids' feelings by assigning things to groups of kids, to tell to the rest of the class, and giving them some false things that they have to say. (Not necessarily lying — pretending to have made a mistake.) The topics could be things familiar to the kids, which they already know or could investigate, like what things can be found in the school playground, or what happened in school the previous week.

    The big point I'm imagining would be to tell the kids, afterwards, that every source they ever find will have been produced by somebody who used to a fourth-grader like Jimmy or Sally. They may have learned a lot since fourth grade, but they can still be wrong.
  11. SPsince83

    SPsince83 Silver Meritorious Patron

    Yes. Another way to vet a science vs pseudoscience is to look at its direction of evaluation. Science begins from the notation of a phenomenon. It works outward from there to discover causes and gathers data that can be generalized for many uses. Pseudoscience starts with a conclusion and then looks for anything that seems to support that conclusion. Usual arguments are that this or that random fact totally invalidates established understanding in a given field.
  12. Udarnik

    Udarnik Gold Meritorious Patron

    Yup. Cherry-picking cheaters.
  13. oneonewasaracecar

    oneonewasaracecar Gold Meritorious Patron

    Well, it's a good idea. I have tried it before with cuitholic on his captain bill alien thread and on other conspiracy threads to little avail. I will probably do so again, still to no avail.

    I think a good place to start would be Michael Shermer's baloney detection kit.

  14. Teanntás

    Teanntás Silver Meritorious Patron

  15. guanoloco

    guanoloco As-Wased

    That perfectly describes feminism and its ideas that it calls theories....this and the humanities. I think perhaps it's from a crashing Mis U of "theory" as "scientific theory"...definitions that are almost completely opposite because the process of the two are completely opposite. Theories are really hypotheses and never really go beyond that point. They start as a theory and then look for evidence whereas in science the evidence, if strong enough and verifiable, graduates into scientific theory.
  16. JackStraw

    JackStraw Silver Meritorious Patron

    Sounds rather like Critical Theory (SJWs, BLM etc...)

  17. guanoloco

    guanoloco As-Wased

    Exactly. Pseudo all day long.

    They start as a theory and then very quickly find evidence to support it. Like microaggressions being backed by medical evidence. LOL

    Scientific theory is a slow process, in contrast.

    Reminds me of an attorney friend who builds his case over time. His philosophy is that he doesn't provide enough evidence to win a case it's that he builds such an insurmountable amount of evidence that he can keep going and going and going way beyond having "enough" and can bury the court to decide in his favor beyond a shadow of a doubt. He's meticulous and does research up front and only takes a case that he can do that with.

    It's a long, arduous, slow process. But it's airtight. He's never lost in court.

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