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Thread: Is Science demanding?

  1. #1 Is Science demanding? 
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    On another thread a member declared that: I find nothing scientific about being demanding.

    This is an intersting position, but one that I find myself at odds with. I wonder what other members think of the proposition. Here is my seven cents worth.

    While the scientific method is an objective system it places very clear demands upon those who use it:
    • The system demands that detailed observations are made of relevant phenomena
    • The system demands that these observations be repeatable
    • The system demands that the hypothesis proposed to explain phenomena be falsifiable

    The onus is upon the scientist investigating the phenomenom or proposing the hypothesis to ensure these demands are met. It is the responsibility of other scientists to demand that they are met by identifying flaws in the hypothesis, requiring it be falsifiable and questioning the validity of observations.

    Without these demands, poor quality observations and ill conceived hypotheses could slip through the net and be mistaken for valid science.

    Thus, demands are the life blood of science. How say you?


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  3. #2  
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    Nothing scientific about making other people look bad/wrong.


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  4. #3  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msafwan View Post
    Nothing scientific about making other people look bad/wrong.
    Science should be about the data and whether a hypothesis or theory is wrong, not the person. Inevitably though, because scientists are human, feelings and personality get involved. But, in the long run, the scientific process works out.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  5. #4  
    Comet Dust Collector Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by msafwan View Post
    Nothing scientific about making other people look bad/wrong.
    Actually there is. It's about defending the integrity of science. Those who state wild speculation should be, and are slapped down for their lack of rigor. That's a good thing. It is they themselves who make them look bad/wrong, not science...
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by msafwan View Post
    Nothing scientific about making other people look bad/wrong.
    Let's postulate that you are correct. So scientist A -- a very nice guy who is kind to animals, donates generously to charities, etc. -- has a belief that green pixies are the real cause of AIDS. He's convinced himself that he has a magic soft drink that makes the pixies go away. He really, truly, sincerely believes it, and starts selling this beverage. Should we allow this to go unchallenged, for fear of making him look bad or wrong? Should Scientist B -- who says that she has hard evidence that a virus causes HIV/AIDS -- keep silent, out of deference to the "nice guy?"

    In short, your position is antiscientific. There are things that are just plain, demonstrably wrong. Challenging such ideas is an integral part of the scientific process. You are completely mistaken about what science is supposed to do. If you say an idiotic thing in a science forum, expect to be challenged on it. Even if you say something that is correct, but without foundation, you may still be challenged on it. How else are others going to be able to know what is reliably known, versus what is hearsay, opinion or just made up?
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  7. #6  
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    Nothing scientific about making other people look bad/wrong.
    Being wrong isn't the same as looking bad so long as people keep their egos in check--but alas that's a tough thing for some people.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
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  8. #7  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msafwan View Post
    Nothing scientific about making other people look bad/wrong.
    The problem, as I see it, msafwan is that certain people who are wrong make themselves look bad by their reactions when their errors are pointed out to them.

    I have adopted an approach that breaks my statements into one of three categories:

    1. Something about which I am certain, either through prior knowledge or experience, or through researching the information.
    2. something about which I am reasonably confident, but which I have not rigorously checked.
    3. Something which is my opinion.

    In case 1. I shall make a direct, clear cut statement. In case 2. I shall preface my comments with a phrase such as "It is my understanding". In case 3 I shall explicitly, or implicitly identify my remarks as an opinion.

    I'll happily bat back and forth with contrary opinions all day in, say, the politics section. In one of the proper science sub-forums any opinions are liklely to be of the sort where I express a wish, for example, that we spend more money on space research.

    In category 2. if someone demonstrates that my understanding was faulty I shall thank them for the clarification.

    In category 1., I am very rarely wrong. This is not some claim that I some kind of genius who knows everything. Far from it. It is a claim that I am careful as to what I assert with a high degree of certainty. But when it is demonstrated I am wrong, through the production of evidence, I will retract my statement and thank the person making the clarification.

    In many cases my defintive assertions will be challenged. If the challenge is to something that constitutes well accepted current theory I have no intention of digging out primary references. But if it is a more controversial topic I shall find appropriate material to substantitate my position.

    This is all that I ask from others who post here. I think it is reasonable, logical and rational. I think asking that others follow a like behaviour is not designed to make them look bad, but to bring clarity to the discussion and improved understanding to all participants.
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  9. #8  
    Ascended Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by msafwan View Post
    Nothing scientific about making other people look bad/wrong.
    The problem, as I see it, msafwan is that certain people who are wrong make themselves look bad by their reactions when their errors are pointed out to them.

    I have adopted an approach that breaks my statements into one of three categories:

    1. Something about which I am certain, either through prior knowledge or experience, or through researching the information.
    2. something about which I am reasonably confident, but which I have not rigorously checked.
    3. Something which is my opinion.

    In case 1. I shall make a direct, clear cut statement. In case 2. I shall preface my comments with a phrase such as "It is my understanding". In case 3 I shall explicitly, or implicitly identify my remarks as an opinion.

    I'll happily bat back and forth with contrary opinions all day in, say, the politics section. In one of the proper science sub-forums any opinions are liklely to be of the sort where I express a wish, for example, that we spend more money on space research.

    In category 2. if someone demonstrates that my understanding was faulty I shall thank them for the clarification.

    In category 1., I am very rarely wrong. This is not some claim that I some kind of genius who knows everything. Far from it. It is a claim that I am careful as to what I assert with a high degree of certainty. But when it is demonstrated I am wrong, through the production of evidence, I will retract my statement and thank the person making the clarification.

    In many cases my defintive assertions will be challenged. If the challenge is to something that constitutes well accepted current theory I have no intention of digging out primary references. But if it is a more controversial topic I shall find appropriate material to substantitate my position.

    This is all that I ask from others who post here. I think it is reasonable, logical and rational. I think asking that others follow a like behaviour is not designed to make them look bad, but to bring clarity to the discussion and improved understanding to all participants.

    I think that if people are wrong then it is possible to explain it in a way in which you don't make the person feel bad. If you make someone afraid to be wrong then they can also be afraid to try when really the objective is to encourage that person to learn and to get it right. I also think that there are people on here that are easily clever enough to fully identify just how and where a person is making the mistakes that leads them to being wrong, the only real question is, is anyone actually clever enough to not only realise someones mistakes but be able to point them out in a way that makes people want to learn and succeed from them rather than just being afraid to fail.

    It is really easy to spot someones elses mistake what is hard is to get them in a frame of mind to accept and learn from it without feeling insulted.
    Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it. - confucius
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  10. #9  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisgorlitz View Post
    It is really easy to spot someones elses mistake what is hard is to get them in a frame of mind to accept and learn from it without feeling insulted.
    I adopt different approaches depending upon the category of member. Based upon their posts I try to assess their background, knowledge and intelligence.

    Are they non-adults and therefore probably lacking significant debating skills and having limited understanding of the methodology of science?

    Are they lazy SOBs who are looking for homework help with no effort on their part?

    Are they enthusiastic amateurs who allow their enthusiasm to carry them towards silly ideas?

    Are they self-centred crackpots who have a theory and who are going to push it regardless?

    etc.

    Each requires a different approach. For some categories I have no expectation that they have any chance of learning from what anyone writes. I do want to ensure that others are not misled by their rubbish. I am not at all concerned if, in achieving that objective, I am perceived as a loudmouthed misanthrope. My goal is to educate not to be popular. As Butch Cassidy (may have) said, "You can get more with a warm smile and a loaded gun than you can with just a warm smile."
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