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Old 2013-08-24, 04:46   Link #30221
Bri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
It's strange that science seems to have disappeared from public view as scientific output has increased annually by about 4% in the last 30 years.

The politicization of science and the resurgence of fundamentalist interpretations of religion seem an unsatisfactory explanation of this phenomenon to me. Especially since it occurs simultaneously in different developed countries.

I'm more tempted to blame the fragmentation and dumbing down of mass media content. It's still the primary source of information for the general public.

Sumeragi also touched upon another point; everyone is an expert on everything. We are capable of creating our own reality bubble around ourselves and we can keep it alive by selective consumption of information. The internet in particular is great place for crackpots to meet and enforce their own beliefs.

I encounter it frequently in my line of work. Outdated economic concepts never seem to remain dead for long, even if disproved centuries ago. To waylay the same misconceptions regularly get's old pretty fast.

Last edited by Bri; 2013-08-24 at 05:24. Reason: grammar
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Old 2013-08-24, 05:08   Link #30222
Ridwan
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Quote:
I more tempted to blame the fragmentation and dumbing down of mass media content. It's still the primary source of information for the general public.
That's an interesting point there, and I can certainly see some of that in the whole thing. This factor certainly works hand in hand with the whole see-saw over religion and science. Internet is also very powerful in gathering up like-minded peoples and polarize opinions.
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Old 2013-08-24, 05:49   Link #30223
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by Traece View Post
Maybe it's just because I don't like to discuss and argue topics like these, but I actually enjoy the vagueness from the lack of explanations when she says such things.
I like to discuss and argue topics, so that may be where the difference of opinion lies. If someone presents a viewpoint and doesn't present the data alongside it then I feel that they are talking unsubstantiated nonsense. It's possible that is what Sumeragi is doing, but because she writes so well I keep the faith that she has something of substance to back her opinions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri View Post
It's strange that science seems to have disappeared from public view as scientific output has increased annually by about 4% in the last 30 years.
I can't speak to output, but the "difficulty level" of science has increased. It's a combination of the fact that we're diving deeper (things are more complex) and the scientific community now demands more proof. That means a wider array of experiments are required, and understanding how those experiments work is another layer of complexity. As a sort of case in point, one of my graduate school classes had us read a paper from the 1960's. It was both inspiring and comical - inspiring because it was an important paper from that time and technology was limited then compared to where we are now, and comical because much of it seemed so basic. A paper like that would never be published with today's expectations.

This isn't to say that things are too complicated for the public to understand. It makes things more difficult for teachers to explain, though. And we're reaching depths where the general public may not care or appreciate the knowledge gained.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri View Post
Sumeragi also touched upon another point; everyone is an expert on everything. We are capable of creating our own reality bubble around ourselves and we can keep it alive by selective consumption of information. The internet in particular is great place for crackpots to meet and enforce their own beliefs.
Thanks to the internet, people can be experts on almost everything. The problem isn't expertise, but a willingness to examine what you know (and be willing to discard it as incorrect) and to think critically. (Somewhat related: TinyRedLeaf's thread "Why it's good to argue, and probably even better when you lose an argument")

According to some psychological development theory, most people don't develop the ability to do this. Developmental theory aside, I suspect the education system is also partly to blame. We've all written reports that had to be backed by book sources, so be honest: when did you ever read the source before taking a stance to write about? Maybe the schools and universities that I went through were unique, or maybe the things I saw were skewed, but based on how the vast majority of people behave I'm going to guess that everyone will nod in agreement with this: you chose your argument, and then went hunting for sources that backed it up. If you came across dissenting sources, you either ignored them or included them in your report simply to put them down. That mirrors what I see many people doing today.
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Old 2013-08-24, 06:31   Link #30224
Sumeragi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
I like to discuss and argue topics, so that may be where the difference of opinion lies. If someone presents a viewpoint and doesn't present the data alongside it then I feel that they are talking unsubstantiated nonsense. It's possible that is what Sumeragi is doing, but because she writes so well I keep the faith that she has something of substance to back her opinions.
I'll dig through my old files and see what I can write for a single post. Going to take a day or so.
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Old 2013-08-24, 06:56   Link #30225
ganbaru
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Bank intern's death raises questions over workaholic race to wealth
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...97K11V20130821

Ukraine leader ignores Putin warning on EU path
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...97N05P20130824
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Old 2013-08-24, 07:33   Link #30226
Bri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
I can't speak to output, but the "difficulty level" of science has increased. It's a combination of the fact that we're diving deeper (things are more complex) and the scientific community now demands more proof. That means a wider array of experiments are required, and understanding how those experiments work is another layer of complexity. As a sort of case in point, one of my graduate school classes had us read a paper from the 1960's. It was both inspiring and comical - inspiring because it was an important paper from that time and technology was limited then compared to where we are now, and comical because much of it seemed so basic. A paper like that would never be published with today's expectations.

This isn't to say that things are too complicated for the public to understand. It makes things more difficult for teachers to explain, though. And we're reaching depths where the general public may not care or appreciate the knowledge gained.
It's possible that the sciences became too abstract to interest the public, but we see very little mainstream media interest in science in general.

We have plenty of media outlets that keep us informed of every little detail that happens on the financial markets, but scientific discoveries that could have far greater impact on our lives in the near future often end up in the back sections of quality papers. In my opinion popular science is not as mainstream as it once was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
Thanks to the internet, people can be experts on almost everything. The problem isn't expertise, but a willingness to examine what you know (and be willing to discard it as incorrect) and to think critically. (Somewhat related: TinyRedLeaf's thread "Why it's good to argue, and probably even better when you lose an argument").
I think anyone can have a well informed opinion on a wide variety of subjects, but expertise seems unlikely. As you said, the development of a critical mindset is neglected in a large part of education.

Another problem is that the population lacks the mathematical literacy (or even basic numerical skills like reading graphs or understanding percentages) to check most scientific source material and are therefore vulnerable to opinions of self-proclaimed experts.
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Old 2013-08-24, 07:36   Link #30227
Mr Hat and Clogs
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I think most people get their 'science' intake from Mythbusters (and the like - heaven forbid if it's Ancient Aliens) these days. If it doesn't explode they don't care!
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Old 2013-08-24, 08:00   Link #30228
Sumeragi
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I miss the days of Bill Nye the Science Guy.
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Old 2013-08-24, 08:04   Link #30229
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
I miss the days of Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Oh oh! I remember that show ! Catchy theme song!
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Old 2013-08-24, 08:07   Link #30230
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Old 2013-08-24, 08:10   Link #30231
C.A.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Hat and Clogs View Post
I think most people get their 'science' intake from Mythbusters (and the like - heaven forbid if it's Ancient Aliens) these days. If it doesn't explode they don't care!
Are you blaming Mythbusters for decrease in scientific literacy? Have you ever seen an episode of the show yourself?

What Mythbusters is educating is something more important than knowing science itself. It is teaching people the scientific method, searching for evidence to back up anything no matter how weird or mundane the claim is.

In fact Mythbusters is way more efficient at spreading scientific literacy than pure science documentaries that throw facts at the audience, which I also support, but it requires the audience to already be scientifically literate to a certain extent.

Its really insulting to see Mythbusters grouped together with Ancient Aliens, where one is based on thorough experimentation and evidence based skeptical reasoning while the other is made up of people who claim to be scientists.

If Mythbusters didn't exist, the amount of scientifically illiterate people would be much more than it is now.
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Last edited by C.A.; 2013-08-24 at 08:37.
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Old 2013-08-24, 09:05   Link #30232
Solace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri View Post
It's possible that the sciences became too abstract to interest the public, but we see very little mainstream media interest in science in general.

We have plenty of media outlets that keep us informed of every little detail that happens on the financial markets, but scientific discoveries that could have far greater impact on our lives in the near future often end up in the back sections of quality papers. In my opinion popular science is not as mainstream as it once was.

I think anyone can have a well informed opinion on a wide variety of subjects, but expertise seems unlikely. As you said, the development of a critical mindset is neglected in a large part of education.

Another problem is that the population lacks the mathematical literacy (or even basic numerical skills like reading graphs or understanding percentages) to check most scientific source material and are therefore vulnerable to opinions of self-proclaimed experts.
I think the issue is twofold:

1. The media does a poor job of explaining everything. In America especially, "news" is heavily driven by talking head, personality driven, repetitive talking point drivel. You can thank the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine for a lot of this. The massive deregulation of telecoms has played a big part too, removing a lot of competition and corporatizing a lot of media.

2. There's nothing for society to rally around as a big science moment. The last time this happened was the space race, and two huge pop culture moments: Star Trek and Star Wars. Then the 80's and 90's happened. Science became less about the big stuff and more about the little stuff, and much of that little stuff was pushed by companies as "it's so amazing, even stupid people can use it", as well as the disposable generation "don't bother fixing it, just go get a new one".

There's also some interesting psychology that people have. For example, once settled on a position, for example "global warming is a hoax", it becomes more difficult for someone of the opposite mindset to convince them otherwise. In fact, the more facts and evidence used to support your point, the more likely the other side will dig in and cling to what they feel is "right" - even if they have to distort evidence and logic to do it. Notice the amount of historical revisionism that occurs today, for example.

So in essence, logical, reasoned, fact based arguments can actually backfire and make attempts to bridge differences of thought worse. Many of you have seen this phenomena even on these very forums.

That said, I'm a firm believer in silent majorities. People do eventually put their foot down, deal with their fuck ups, and get the progress train back up and running. That's why things like this give me hope:

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Old 2013-08-24, 09:21   Link #30233
C.A.
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Dr Tyson being one of the greatest inspirations of my life, he is the exact reason why I am talking about scientific literacy.

He believes that children are inherently curious, born scientists, they are not the problem of society. Instead the adults are the problem, they force children to do things that they are not interested in, the education system crushes out their curiosity, social conformity forces people to grow away from the scientific thinking and questioning.

Being scientifically literate is to be able to reason before accepting anything as fact, questioning something before doing it. Society is losing this sort of skepticism and critical thinking.

Alot of documentaries throw in lots of beautiful images but with scientists that speak jargon that doesn't engage. What Carl Sagan did in the 70's to Neil DeGrasse Tyson and many other would be scientists is that he was able to engage and invoke their curiosity and wonder.

Mythbusters is doing the same thing and may even be much more effective because it has entertaining hosts and content.

Dr. Tyson is a very intelligent and charismatic personality, he can definitely make the new Cosmos both educational and entertaining. But more importantly he is cunning, in his own words, he knows that FOX has the adult audience that he should be targeting, the very problem of scientific literacy.
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Last edited by C.A.; 2013-08-24 at 09:33.
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Old 2013-08-24, 09:30   Link #30234
Chaos2Frozen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C.A. View Post
Dr. Tyson is a very intelligent and charismatic personality, he can definitely make the new Cosmos both educational and entertaining. But more importantly he is cunning, in his own words, he knows that FOX has the adult audience that he should be targeting, the very problem of scientific literacy.
Him and Michio Kaku are my two favorite 'guest' physicist on History Channel's "The Universe"
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Old 2013-08-24, 09:32   Link #30235
Solace
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The sad part is that there are scientists who think people like Neil are "dumbing down" science by using layman's language. There is definitely some ivory tower attitudes out there. I met a number of them during college, unfortunately. I love science, but the scientific community can be equally as full of problem children and idiots as any other group.
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Old 2013-08-24, 09:38   Link #30236
SaintessHeart
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solace View Post
The sad part is that there are scientists who think people like Neil are "dumbing down" science by using layman's language. There is definitely some ivory tower attitudes out there. I met a number of them during college, unfortunately. I love science, but the scientific community can be equally as full of problem children and idiots as any other group.
That issue is easy to fix! I remember telling juniors from the science stream to seek report writing help from their arts class counterparts. Cutest bunch they will become being tsundere to each other until the end of the project, with one side going "Why should be get help from these artsy-fartsy snobs" and the other going "Why must we be helping those bunch of illiterate plebians?"

Until they get the A. Then the science students to offer the arts people tuition in Math.
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Old 2013-08-24, 09:43   Link #30237
C.A.
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At the time of Carl Sagan's Cosmos, ivory towers are definitely a big problem as he was heavily criticised. But he still managed to create a whole generation of people interested in science and there are now more science documentaries than ever before. Arrogance in the scientific community is less now but maybe its also needed so that we can be sure that there are scientists who are serious about their job.

And because of that I am actually quite surprised that scientific literacy seem to have decreased. Especially since I've been subscribed to dozens of great science channels on youtube that provides me with science and mathematics across all spectrums, it seemed to me that science is definitely getting very popular with most of these channels having millions of subscribers.
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Old 2013-08-24, 09:52   Link #30238
Anh_Minh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C.A. View Post
Are you blaming Mythbusters for decrease in scientific literacy? Have you ever seen an episode of the show yourself?

What Mythbusters is educating is something more important than knowing science itself. It is teaching people the scientific method, searching for evidence to back up anything no matter how weird or mundane the claim is.

In fact Mythbusters is way more efficient at spreading scientific literacy than pure science documentaries that throw facts at the audience, which I also support, but it requires the audience to already be scientifically literate to a certain extent.

Its really insulting to see Mythbusters grouped together with Ancient Aliens, where one is based on thorough experimentation and evidence based skeptical reasoning while the other is made up of people who claim to be scientists.

If Mythbusters didn't exist, the amount of scientifically illiterate people would be much more than it is now.
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Old 2013-08-24, 09:59   Link #30239
C.A.
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lol Richard Feynman is another scientific badass.

But yea, Mythbusters are now recognised by the science committee and has got several papers published that cite their findings. They even helped NASA solve several aeronautical problems where they couldn't come up with an experiment cheap enough to work, namely how ice can form on wings and how much damage the ice chunks will cause when they hit ground.

EDIT: Oh and Jamie and Adam now carry honorary doctorates, they are officially mad scientists.
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No longer a NEET so I'll not be online as often.
Ignore gender and kick sexuality to the curb!
I'm a big mecha fan, who keeps playing the SRW series.
When I say 'My god...', god refers to Haruhi-sama.

My art album updated 11th May 2013, Science.
Deviant Art: http://ca0001.deviantart.com/
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Old 2013-08-24, 10:03   Link #30240
Endless Soul
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Ah the heady days when Cosmos, one of the best shows ever, had me glued to the TV. That show, and the emergence of the Space Shuttle did wonders to pique my curiosity in science. I spent a lot of time learning everything I could about Astronomy. Nowadays, it's various websites that keep me informed.

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