Scientific literacy

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by ninja08hippie, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. ninja08hippie

    ninja08hippie Official SF Hugger
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    I would like to address something that I noticed on Facebook. A lot of people are talking about climate change after the storm. Climatologists are saying that because of the lack of polar ice caps, the currents that keep big storms south are stopping, yet the right wing continues to push the idea that there is still scientific debate over whether man is responsible for climate change (they've finally accepted that it's real, but not the cause yet.)

    I'd like to address why there is the illusion of debate (there isn't, 98% of climatologists are in consensus and the other 2% do not deny it, they just want more data.) Actually, the scientific debate stopped about a decade ago, so why do so many people believe that it still rages among scientists?

    Besides the media, the internet, and the politicians spinning everything, there does appear to be a scientific debate. One could spend ten minutes on google and come up with a dozen "scientific articles" rebutting the claim that human activity is the primary cause and catalyst. All of them written by respected scientists with no ties to oil companies, lobbyists, or politics, and in the last few years. So doesn't that prove that there is still a debate?

    Slow down, not quite. Notice that I put "scientific articles" in quotes. I call this stuff scientific propaganda instead, because it lacks one crucial step in becoming a scientific paper. When most people think of propaganda, they think of: political campaigns, Fox News, Scientology... But that's slightly different, those sources all distort facts, or simply make them up. Scientific propaganda is legitimate science and facts, in all of the climate denial articles, all of the facts are correct, all of the figures accurate (well, good ones' anyway,) and the scientists usually try to be impartial and without agenda. Scientifically ignorant people link these types of articles back and forth to argue, creating the illusion that there is still a scientific debate.

    The same happened with cigarettes. The illusion of scientific debate continued even to the 1994 congressional hearings as to whether or not tobacco caused cancer. The scientific debate had ended in the late 1960s.

    The same is still going on with evolution. There is the illusion of debate between scientists over creationism or evolution, even though scientific debate ended in the 1800s.

    So back to my point, what is the difference between real scientific articles and the propaganda ones. What makes one scientific paper better than another? Well, the problematic variable in science is: human error. Missing data, unaccounted for variables or data, skewed data. So how is this corrected? Peer review. Peer review is the process that legitimate scientific journals use to validate what the publish. When they receive scientific propaganda, it is in a "raw" state and has to be cooked and garnished. They send the article out to experts in the field of the article, and those experts compare the data to their own and others', looking for things that may have been overlooked. They report back, and recommend changes, publication as is, or rejection due to errors. Once the errors are corrected and missing items accounted for, then the article is published by the legitimate journal.

    That is the difference between these articles that ignorant people on both sides keep linking to and the ones that those of us who are literate in science read.

    But wait, there has been peer reviewed articles denying climate change, hasn't there? Well, yes and no. Not in a while, several years actually, and science tends to want new data, the newer the better. All those articles from a decade ago? Well, they have been debunked by other newer peer reviewed articles. Remember, once a peer reviewed article has been debunked, it goes back into the scientific propaganda category. The reason it slipped by into peer reviewed journals in the first place, is again: human error. There were errors that the reviewers didn't see, but once those are corrected by further publications, those original articles are no longer valid.

    I hope this has been informative, and remember, when someone tries to argue science with you and links to loads of articles by experts, they may actually be experts, but remind them:
    [​IMG]
    I'd say there is maybe 0.1% of the population that is actually scientifically literate, so let them write AND review the information for you.
     
    #1 ninja08hippie, Nov 4, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  2. CTRx

    CTRx New Member

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    Completely agree. The evolution 'debate' is long over, anyone stuck with a creationist mindset, doesn't accept evolution and uses the phrase 'just a theory' should really pull their head out of their ass.

    I'm not a science student, (Politics and Anthropology), but the lack of scientific literacy among the general public (although I detest that phrase) is astounding. Added to that, why anyone thinks Fox News is capable of being an authority on anything at all is beyond me.
     
  3. ninja08hippie

    ninja08hippie Official SF Hugger
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    There is a reason they are called "the ignorant masses" ;) A person (singular) is smart, people (plural) are stupid. I sort of like Goldman Sach's term "Muppet" for the masses when it comes to science. Money can make people believe anything.
     
    #3 ninja08hippie, Nov 4, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  4. clamUp

    clamUp Active Member

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    You're fighting two major sociological problems that have to be addressed before people will begin to listen:

    1. The Boy Who Cried Wolf

    Ever since I was a kid, every couple of years somebody comes out spewing their version of The End of the World. I believed the first couple when I was young because they're all preached like a religion. Older and more savvy people are getting tired of it, and I really can't blame them. To them, Man-Caused Global Warming is just the next one in a long line of Chicken Little stories. Five or ten years from now it'll be something else that will cause the world's demise. It's a religion to many people and others just aren't buying it.

    2. The Internet

    In the past, it took days and weeks to hear reports from major events like the super-storm that just took place. Nowadays, when a bird dies over a playground next to a schoolyard, someone is there to video the event, and eight people post conspiracies on what caused that bird to die. People read about all these "catastrophes" daily, put them all together and a mass panic begins to develop. It's inevitable. But take it in context, and it's just another day in the life.


    The U.S. has made significant changes, albeit some would say not enough, in its manufacturing and pollution contributions, but it's still the U.S. that gets hit up the most for handouts when it comes to fighting global warming even though our output is dwarfed by other contributors like China, who aren't the least bit interested in making changes at all. Even if everyone in the U.S. bought into it, there's very little that can be done at this point to get larger countries to make changes.
     
    #4 clamUp, Nov 4, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  5. ninja08hippie

    ninja08hippie Official SF Hugger
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    This thread isn't about how to fix it, it's just about the illusion that there is still debate. China may be pouring more pollutants into the air, but it's government at least accepts the science, and they are working slowly towards fixing it. Their country is simply developing too quickly to be totally green right now, we had the same surge in the late 1800s. The USA government (half of it) simply denies that the problem even exists.
     
  6. Essene

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    I believe in God; and you guys are all wrong.
     
  7. Texas_Red

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    *shrug* Okay.

    Prove it. :p
     
  8. Essene

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    One of my first priorities in life is the scientific pursuit to understand life.

    I believe that life can be best explained by science. My religion comes in when something metaphysical manifests.

    Cliffs: I'm just playin' on the you guys being wrong part.
     
  9. lbushwalker

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    No dude you praying for these guys to be wrong and that is blind faith which as you correctly say is "religion". :coocoo
     
  10. biker061

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    'faith' is believing in something you can't prove!
     
  11. clamUp

    clamUp Active Member

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    ...and since it's impossible to prove a negative, no proof of the non-existence of god or gods will ever be provided. ;)
     
  12. Essene

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    Wrong. Don't presume beyond your capability. Or perhaps you have some insight I'm unaware of.

    That is one of MANY definitions.

    ftfy
     
  13. Texas_Red

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    Yeah, I used the forum raz emote with the idea that it'd be clear I was merely having fun, not seriously laying down a challenge.
     
  14. sandwich

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    Interesting post! My inclination is to be suspicious of most claims unless I can verify them. My skepticism comes from my training, and I can tell you there are any number of articles in "scholarly" journals where the research or evaluation design and associated statistical tests and/or interpretations are fucked up. In other words, they're wrong.
     
  15. ninja08hippie

    ninja08hippie Official SF Hugger
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    Exactly, that's why you should only treat peer reviewed journals as legitimate science.


    By the way guys, it is quite obvious that Essene isn't serious, stop talking about god :p
     
  16. Essene

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    Well even if you did- I have my beliefs which I believe as truth; but no proof.

    However-

    [​IMG]

    This will suffice for the scientific side.
     
  17. Texas_Red

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    [​IMG]
     
  18. Essene

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    Aww come on... I laughed.
     
  19. lbushwalker

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    And she isn't even holding the cock correctly as any self respecting science student would well know :lol