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  1. #1
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    Default Science and Stupidity:When Opinon replaces facts

    Two articles in The Independent illustrate an alarming tendency to dismiss science, to be replaced by opinion, as if an opinion and a fact were the same thing. One concerns the Flat Earth hypothesis, the other the so-called controversy regarding the use of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Vaccine where in spite of the evidence the President of the USA endorses the argument that MMR causes autism, a theory which led one of its leading exponents to be struck off the Medical Register in the UK though he now lives in Texas and continues to advocate a policy that has destroyed lives.

    The report on the Flat Earth Convention in the UK claims they did offer scientific 'proof' that the Earth is not a globe or a sphere but flat, although in precise terms I don't see how domes, ice walls, diamonds, puddles with multiple worlds inside, and even the Earth as the inside of a giant cosmic egg can be taken seriously. Critically, this is where the confrontation takes place:
    While flat earthers seem to trust and support scientific methods, what they don’t trust is scientists, and the established relationships between “power” and “knowledge”.
    And again,
    A particular point of contention occurred when one of the physicists pleaded with the audience to avoid trusting YouTube and bloggers. The audience and the panel of flat earthers took exception to this, noting that “now we’ve got the internet and mass communication … we’re not reliant on what the mainstream are telling us in newspapers, we can decide for ourselves”.
    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices...-a8336946.html

    The MMR controversy is far more serious because it impacts people's lives. It concerns Andrew Wakefield who
    co-authored a now notorious and debunked medical paper that claimed to have found a link between autism and the use of a common children’s vaccine. The paper, later retracted by The Lancet, helped lead to a drop-off in vaccination rates and an increase in outbreak diseases such as measles, not only in Britain and Europe, but in the US. The doctor was subsequently found guilty by the British General Medical Council (GMC) of three-dozen charges, including dishonesty and abuse of children, and struck off the medical register.

    Again, the key here is Wakefield's defence of himself and his dangerous ideas:

    “I was discredited in the eyes of those who wanted to see me discredited. In other words, those who had an interest in maintaining the status quo,”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...-a8331826.html


    More alarming is that Wakefield and others met the President in the White House who interrupted their presentation-
    “He interjected and said, ‘You don’t need to tell me that vaccines cause autism. I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it personally’. We went on to discuss the issue of the autism crisis that is set to affect 80 per cent of boys if nothing is done. He said if he was to be elected he’d do something about it.”

    And also
    On more than 20 occasions, Mr Trump has tweeted about there being a link between vaccines and autism, something experts at the government’s leading public health institute say is not true. He also repeated the claim during a Republican primary debate, a remark that was immediately dismissed as false by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...-a8331836.html

    In practical terms it appears the President has done nothing; that this man is prepared to discard science for a 'feeling' that it 'just ain't right' may be an accurate estimate of his rank stupidity, but should he be allowed to endanger the lives of children because of that?


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  2. #2
    Senior Member Silver Poster buttslinger's Avatar
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    Default Re: Science and Stupidity:When Opinon replaces facts

    In the Business World, if you sell an inferior product, a cheap hammer, or a liter of sugar water, if you sell it cheap enough, people will buy it. In the Business World, not paying taxes is smart. Trump is a very successful Business Man, you can't argue that. You can make a lot of money selling shit.


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  3. #3
    Hung Angel Platinum Poster trish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Science and Stupidity:When Opinon replaces facts

    One could employ the ‘scientific method’ in the pursuit of knowledge on one’s own. You could design and construct your own instruments, perform your own experiments, analyze and interpret your own data, confirm or falsify your own theories and hypothesis. It’s always interesting to see how far you can get on your own.

    This is true for larger communities and organizations too. Any industry, any union of scientists etc. can pursue a similar program. The difference will be that individuals will not be carrying out each and every task on their own. There will be a division of labor.

    Any one professional chemist (working for industry, the academy, a government agency or the military) will have verified much of what she claims to know on her own. But not with all of her own equipment, and not without a great deal of guidance, not only from mentors but from the field itself as it developed before her and was set down in logs and eventually in textbooks. The modern sciences are vast and complex. To meaningfully progress and add to our present knowledge, to even know what our present knowledge is, we need to avail ourselves of a division of labor and trust the work of dedicated researchers other than our lone selves.

    For anyone who has pursued a career in the sciences, this isn’t difficult. The difficult part is doing the science itself: but remaining true to the integrity of the enterprise is easy and pretty much a given. Truth is what we’re all in search of after all. Yes there are other motivations too. Winning the admiration of your colleagues, being the first to discover something new. But every ‘discovery’ is going to be scrutinized to the nth degree; both to ascertain its validity as well as to test the bounds of its application. Academia and government agencies (e.g. NASA and the CDC) are the most open venues and subject to the highest scrutiny. Industry and military research are less open and may perhaps be more subject to deliberate abuses.

    Flat-Earthers and anti-vaxxers, who claim to view the evidence with a clear and unbiased eye, seem to me to be among the biggest cherry-pickers there ever were. There are so many ways to falsify the flat-earth hypothesis the mind boggles at the prospect that there’s any modern person who believes it. Nor can I imagine what must be the mental state of the anti-vaxxer who is willing to risk the health of her child and all the others she has contact with on the basis of a decade old rumor which has been debunked by the very same medical community to whom she takes her child for all other ailments.


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    "...I no longer believe that people's secrets are defined and communicable, or their feelings full-blown and easy to recognize."_Alice Munro, Chaddeleys and Flemings.

    "...the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way". _Judge Holden, Cormac McCarthy's, BLOOD MERIDIAN.

  4. #4
    Junior Poster nitron's Avatar
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    Default Re: Science and Stupidity:When Opinon replaces facts

    I'd say it's not just these two groups, but you picked good examples stavro.
    To take your analogy a little further .
    Anti vaxers tend to be on the left , and flat -earther's on the right of the politico spectrum. It seems to me.
    I would add ,how about what science has to say about human nature,say ,Evolutionary Psychology's observations , for example, and how both right and left disregard it.


    On the left,in my opinion.
    Denying Nature ,over reliance on Nurture.
    , no inherent differences, the Standard Social Science Model,,it's all nurture, therefore the potential of freewill and free agency.If only we have the right environment.Denying inherent differences ,immoral or irrational actors,
    leading to ,tribalism, identity politics,no free speech .

    And,from the right,I see...

    Denying Nurture, and simplistic notions of Nature.
    ....trust the markets, it corrects itself.It's rational self interest so it all will work out. We have free will , we're rational agent's.
    No such thing as, immoral or short sighted ,narrow self interested ,actors that take no heed of wide survival. Narrow ,short term profits, even at the cost of there offspring's well being.

    Yia, Denying is delaying.
    Delaying a better way of being , why not use the best tools civilization has come up with to try and manage our self's ?
    Evolutionary Psychology,because it admits that it's both nature-nurture that have laid miserable suffering on all of us for all of history, and to change that ,it's really really difficult . Why can't we accept that an honest acceptance of human limitations can lead to an honest discussion about what we can implement and when it's not working,change it again with no loss of honor, we're imperfect . Thanks for starting the thread, and getting it off my nipples.



  5. #5
    Senior Member Silver Poster buttslinger's Avatar
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    Default Re: Science and Stupidity:When Opinon replaces facts

    Of everyone I know closely, the only person I know who came out of College set for life, was my brother, who got a Chemistry Degree. Basically he MEMORIZED every lesson he got, until he was the book.
    Personally, all that damn homework I had as a kid??..........total waste of time!


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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Science and Stupidity:When Opinon replaces facts

    Quote Originally Posted by nitron View Post
    Anti vaxers tend to be on the left , and flat -earther's on the right of the politico spectrum. It seems to me.
    I don't think it makes sense to present the nature-nurture debate as a contrast between left and right. The point about the 'nature' school I assume, is that they believe categories -male and female, for example- are fixed and cannot be changed. If you add in the view of some that male and female have precise functions related to procreation, which is natural, the only way to explain homosexuality is to present it as an aberration, to be condemned morally if preferred though some can just label it 'wrong' and leave it at that. But if you believe in nurture as a presentation of the alternative, that gender categories are not just fluid but change as society changes, you can still argue that if nurture makes homosexuals, it can also unmake them. This could as easily produce a 'gay cure' from 'the left' as the 'right'. I don't know how to define male and female as 'left' or 'right' as people on the left have been and probably still are hostile to transexuality, and to assume that a liberal social movement must also be left-wing is I think too easy an assumption to make.

    Thus I don't see how the 'anti-vax' brigade can be associated with the 'left' as would be the case with any conspiracy theory, as not all conspiracy theories are adopted or supported by 'right-wing' nutters, as nutters can be found in all walks of life.

    It is simply a refusal to believe that what science produces as facts are indeed facts. Should the flat-earth brigade also argue against gravity as a scientific fact? Why this denial takes place may have more to do with the process as much as the consequences, thus people who in reality are opposed to the remedies that exist to combat the worst effects of climate change -taxation and the subsidy of alternative energy, for example- attack the science behind climate change in an attempt to undermine the politics. The anti-vax argument is an example of people who think medicine has too much power and is too closely linked to 'big pharma' that attack the science in order to undermine those who they think are making decisions for them they can make for themselves.
    Many parents may think 'home schooling' is better as it protects their child from the indoctrination by the state, but it doesn't guarantee home schooling is a better alternative in educational terms.


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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Science and Stupidity:When Opinon replaces facts

    Quote Originally Posted by trish View Post
    Truth is what we’re all in search of after all.
    From your robust reply, this expresses the core dilemma, because once it is argued that the truth is unreliable because its source is unreliable the potential exists to define the truth not on the basis of evidence, but on something that is not even scientific such as the claim 'the truth' only exists to achieve a political goal that can be challenged. Thus climate change as science is declared to be a hoax when the remedy is presented as carbon taxes by people who argue as a principle that 'all taxation is theft', and who oppose the subsidization of alternative energy solutions because it enables the state to interfere in markets where the state ought not to be.

    If the argument against the science of climate change is in fact an argument about politics, the argument about the science of abortion is an argument that connects it to moral judgement, but only in a selective way.
    The science behind the argument that abortion is murder is based on a definition of life that claims it begins with the creation of a foetus that can be seen through the science of electronics as the foetus can be observed by ultrasound developing into human form. But this is only as far as the science goes, for the greater weight of the moral argument is that it is wrong to abort life, an argument based either on religion, or on a more basic appeal to the idea that killing is wrong.
    But this is where the same people appear to abandon their argument, for if it is morally wrong to abort a life in the womb at 10 weeks, is it not also wrong to abort a life when it is ten months old, if that life is being lived in a house in Baghdad destroyed by a bomb in a war supported by those who previously said abortion is a crime against humanity? After all the science also enters into the debate when a doctor pronounces the 10-month old baby is dead, even if the only evidence of life is half a torso.

    When the truth is so challenged it loses its core meaning, there is no truth. But there is a difference between denying the existence of gravity and denying the scientific validity of the MMR vaccine; one is irrelevant to society (as is true of the flat-earth concept), the other has social consequences, and it is where science impacts on society that politics can get involved, but until recently, it was rare for politics to deny science its core activity to the extent that it now has. After all, science did badly as a result of the creation of nuclear weapons, just as nuclear energy in spite of its efficiency suffered greatly from the disaster at Chernobyl, but this can be understood as the potential for science to do good as well as bad, though ultimately there was never anything in the science of nuclear fission that insisted it be used to kill and destroy. And the science behind nuclear fission has survived.

    The mere vulgarity of the language that has been used to dismiss science ought to be the warning sign that the alternative argument is based merely on prejudice. That a policy on climate change can be based on one man's resentment of another renders it worthless.

    The real problem then becomes: how do you rescue the truth from the politics? It is not a politically good move to tell a potential voter 'you are stupid', but if they are convinced the earth is flat, that vaccines do more harm than good, how can their views be changed? Evidence can do that, and is the foundation of much science, but I suspect some people adopt a position for whatever reason and cannot be forced to change, and we can only hope they do not influence politicians and, over time change their views.


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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Science and Stupidity:When Opinon replaces facts

    Anti-vaxers tend to fall on both sides of the political spectrum since mistrust in government, especially when it comes to people's personal lives, is not a party neutral belief. I also happen to think they're the worst of the conspiracy groups since their ignorance poses a threat to the well being of society.

    The Flat-Earthers, I have no time for stupidity in my life and really don't pay no attention to them. Their belief is relatively harmless.


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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Science and Stupidity:When Opinon replaces facts

    This could be in the Climate Change thread but is resonant here too, the bizarre ideas of a Republican Congressman -Mo Brooks. Don't these people employ interns to do basic research?

    Brooks represents Alabama's fifth district and - during a recent House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing - said some pretty strange things about sea levels.
    When asking questions to Philip Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Centre in Massachusetts, he asked whether rising sea levels are the results of eroding rocks and soil and nothing to do with humans whatsoever:
    What about erosion?
    Every single year that we're on Earth, you have huge tons of silt deposited by the Mississippi River, by the Amazon River, by the Nile...and every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you've got less space in the oceans, because the bottom is moving up.
    He then went on to ask Duffy how much ice there is in the Antarctic. Literally.

    https://www.indy100.com/article/republican-congressman-mo-brooks-climate-change-denier-sea-levels-rocks-weather-8361471



  10. #10
    Hung Angel Platinum Poster trish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Science and Stupidity:When Opinon replaces facts

    There is a relation between erosion and sea level rise. Rising tides erode more beaches at faster rates.
    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/i...-while-you-can
    https://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature...ing-shorelines

    The scientific consensus is that ocean rise has three primary causes: thermal explansion, melting glaciers and ice caps, ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica.
    Imagine that, they don’t even consider falling chunks of chalk from the cliffs of Dover. But fuck that whole community of oceanographers and climatologists. The new hot theory from Rep Brooks is that too many rocks are falling from ocean cliffs and displacing too much water thereby raising the sea-level and razing the science of oceanography to its very foundations.
    https://www.livescience.com/62613-er...mo-brooks.html

    Brooks might have as well suggested we can counter ocean level rise by removing more fish from the ocean. If it had occurred to him, I’m sure he would’ve endorsed the idea. Fishing: Good for the Economy and Good for Beaches - not to mention Good Eating.

    My own theory is that Americans have gotten so fat their weight is pushing the continent deeper into the ocean and displacing the water. Stop Sea Level Rise: Eat Less.


    "...I no longer believe that people's secrets are defined and communicable, or their feelings full-blown and easy to recognize."_Alice Munro, Chaddeleys and Flemings.

    "...the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way". _Judge Holden, Cormac McCarthy's, BLOOD MERIDIAN.

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