From NPR-In Defense of Science
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09-02-2011, 06:32 PM
From NPR-In Defense of Science
I think the last line is especially important.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2011/02/09...of-science

Although it may seem like old news, science and the teaching of science remains under attack in many parts of the country. This "anti-scientifism" is costing the United States dearly.

A country that distrusts science is condemned to move straight back to medieval obscurantism.

While many countries are working hard to educate their young about the values of science and of scientific research, in the U.S. countless people are teaching them to mistrust science and scientists, taking every opportunity to politicize and theologize the scientific discourse in ways completely incompatible with the goals and modus operandi of the scientific enterprise.

Now, many will say that they are not anti-science per se, just against the science that clashes with their religious beliefs. So, antibiotics are fine, but the theory of evolution is not. If only they'd take the time to learn about how antibiotics work and about how over-prescribing can result in germ mutations that render some antibiotics ineffective. It's is a real-time illustration of the theory of evolution at work.


Or take the statement made by Bill O'Reilly, that my co-blogger Adam Frank posted here yesterday, concerning the tides and the existence of the moon. Can a man living in the 21st century, and with enormous media clout, actually state that God put the moon around the Earth to promote the tides? Apparently, yes.

And worse, O'Reilly called the people that pointed out to him that there are well-understood natural mechanisms that explain the origin of the moon and the solar system, and why there is life here and not on Mars or Venus, as "desperate." He continued:

"It takes more faith to not believe, and to think that this was all luck ... than it does to believe in a deity."

No, it takes an enormous amount of intellectual blindness to actually deny the well-established advances of science in the name of a faith based on an antiquated God of the Gaps theology. Unfortunately, many believe that what O'Reilly says with a straight face is true.

What are scientists and educators to do? First, we must speak out. We cannot let such absurdities go unchallenged. Here is an example on teaching evolution. Fortunately, there are many others. (Go to the National Center for Science Education for more.)

The old position that engaging is beneath our dignity will not help us advance the cause for a scientifically literate population.

Second, we should be honest about what science can and cannot do. We should celebrate and publicize all the wonderful achievements of science, but also be frank about the challenges we still face. Scientists should not use science as a weapon against belief by making it into a belief system. That, too, is a road to nowhere.

The danger of taking science too far, as in stating to the world that science has all the answers and can understand it all, is to lose its credibility when findings are doubted, or when "established" theories are supplanted by new ones. Much better is to explain how science goes about creating knowledge through a process of trial and error and constant verification by independent experimental groups.

Our scientific knowledge of nature grows through a self-correcting accretion process. New theories emerge through the cracks in old ones. There is drama and beauty in this endeavor, as we struggle to make sense of the world around us. To deny what we've learned is to deny one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity. Our children deserve better than that.

To not know is fine. To not want to know is disastrous.

My reason for being is to serve as a cat cushion. That is good enough for me. Wink
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09-02-2011, 06:58 PM
RE: From NPR-In Defense of Science
That was excellent. I am going to email that to my philosophy of science professor. Thanks for sharing

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09-02-2011, 07:08 PM
RE: From NPR-In Defense of Science
"philosophy of science"? Sounds interesting. Brief synopsis please?

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09-02-2011, 09:39 PM
RE: From NPR-In Defense of Science
(09-02-2011 07:08 PM)trillium13 Wrote:  "philosophy of science"? Sounds interesting. Brief synopsis please?
Sure! In one sentence from the syllabus it is the "Study of concept formation in science and examination of patterns of scientific investigation and method." We talk about the scientific method, questions like "What is science? What isn't science? What is a theory?" We have been using primary sources from people like David Hume, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn and Imre Lakatos. Lots of talk about relativity theory and related areas. If you're interested in it, we actually just finished a series of articles that pertain to something mentioned in the NPR article, trial and verification or falsification of theories.

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09-02-2011, 10:37 PM
RE: From NPR-In Defense of Science
That definitely sounds interesting. Big Grin

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10-02-2011, 12:23 AM
RE: From NPR-In Defense of Science
Something needs to be done or the USA will become a third world country.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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10-02-2011, 12:28 AM
RE: From NPR-In Defense of Science
(09-02-2011 10:37 PM)trillium13 Wrote:  That definitely sounds interesting. Big Grin
If you want a taste, look up these 3 articles:
1. Karl R Popper- "Science: Conjectures and Refutations"
2. Thomas S. Kuhn- "Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research?"
3. Imre Lakatos- "Falsification and the Methodology of Science Research Programs"

#1 Distinguishes science from non-science through the idea of falsifiability. Religion and other things that claim 100% accuracy are not science BECAUSE they claim 100% accuracy. Popper says that a scientific hypothesis develops a test and states conditions that would make the hypothesis false.
#2 Criticizes #1, claiming that Popper only focuses on paradigm shifts, specifically the shift from Newtonian mechanics to relativity theory. Kuhn believes that what makes science is puzzle solving.
#3 Comes back and says that Kuhn created a straw man of the Popper argument. Lakatos was either a colleague or student of Popper (cannot seem to find which) and says Kuhn didn't understand that the position works on every level of science. He goes further into what make theories or hypotheses stick and what gets them rejected than Popper, and makes the best argument of the three overall.

It's intense reading, but I found that when I took my time with it (the articles are only a few pages) it was heavy but intensely interesting.

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10-02-2011, 02:18 AM
RE: From NPR-In Defense of Science
Precisely why I'm here! I've even said this in several places. In here somewhere; I've said ; "We are going to become The Union of Stupid Assholes if something isn't done"!

The Beauty of The Scientific Method , is the Anticipation of a Better Explanation.
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10-02-2011, 05:14 AM
RE: From NPR-In Defense of Science
When did this hatred of knowledge start in the US ?
I now you force introduced Christianity in everything during the red scare , but when did the downhill on all knowledge start ?

Atheism is a religion like OFF is a TV channel !!!

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10-02-2011, 06:36 AM
RE: From NPR-In Defense of Science
(10-02-2011 05:14 AM)gaglamesh731 Wrote:  When did this hatred of knowledge start in the US ?
I now you force introduced Christianity in everything during the red scare , but when did the downhill on all knowledge start ?
I think it was a combination of things. Reagan was the first president to make. A big deal about being gawd's candidate. Then his vice president George Bush came to power and not only continued the trend, but introduced a lot of standardized testing, which nerfed a lot of teachers ability to teach well. They were forced to cater to mass-administered testing rather than allowed to teach kids to think outside of the box. Then over the course ofa couple decades, the slow wheels of the propaganda machine turned, making liberals out to look like elitists, idiots and *gasp* communists, and further making anyone with a decent grasp on realitylook like a liar. Facts are a liability in a nation that gets its entertainment and "news" in the same tabloid manner

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