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I worry for scientists...

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Roaster, May 21, 2010.

  1. #1 Roaster, May 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    I feel that with the climate change debate has come a more sinister scepticism towards scientists and the scientific method in general.

    Social commentators and the rabble are painting scientists as the new societal villains, out to lie and hide the truth in the name of some sinister plot to ... um ... well that part isn't quite clear.

    But there is a general mistrust of scientists that I observed in the comments on this SMH article.

    This article reports a study which rates the features on virtual body shapes which people find most attractive, in order to determine what people see as being an ideal body shape in 2010.

    The comments have been hijacked by a bunch of morons screaming "Nazi eugenics", "genetic engineering", and "gattaga". Some stand out comments to me included:

    Was this just bad grammar or were the inverted commas inserted to cast scientists in a negative light? It just feels as though there is a general mistrust of any research - knowledge for knowledge's sake is not necessarily a bad thing, but I can also see applications for this research in marketing and 3D modelling.

    And then this SMH article, in which I hear they've modified the Texan teaching texts in order to breed a bunch of pro-slavery Muslim-hating gun-toting creationists?

    Is it just me or has there been a move away from rational thought over the last few years?

    It seems to me that uneducated fools who call themselves commentators can say whatever the hell they want without having to back it up with any of the checks necessary to be called a journalist, but because of the platforms they use (SMH, morning telle) these no-brained commentators are being confused with people who report the news. And it worries me, because although they are not subject to the same reporting standards as journalists are, their words are still given equal weight by the people because of the platforms they use.

    I dunno - just had to get it off my chest I guess. Perhaps social commentary should be subject to some sort of sanity check as I feel that a lot of key decisions in this country are more and more controlled by the media, and for that reason perhaps the media needs to be more accurate and accountable.

    ps as far as the climate change debate goes, the fact that the climate is getting warmer much faster than it ever has is not in debate, and the fact that it coincides neatly with industrialisation is also not in debate - this is where the sceptics are wrong as they are disputing measurable facts. The uncertainty comes in the predictive models which are a bit shaky and easy to pull apart as there are so many variables at play and the interactions between model elements are so complex. The sad thing is that high profile sceptics are applying the uncertainty of predictive models to the certainty of measured results - and falsely asserting uncertainty of the EXISTENCE of climate change.

    Disputed Bay of Bengal island 'vanishes' say scientists

  2. the American bible-belt, including the flat-earthers in Texas, have always been verging on science-hating fundamentalism.

    as for scientists, they come in various guises these days. including "Christian scientist".
    I agree, science isn't about the search for facts and truth it used to be. Certain studies highlighting certain truths are funded by certain corporations to support certain motives. Scientists DO appear to have lost some credibility these days.

    My suggestion is that everyone call bullshit on at least 90% of everything they're told.
  3. It's not just you.

    I continue to remind myself that 50% of Australians are of below average intelligence.

    And only 1 in 10 are among the most intelligent 10%.
  4. It is sad that people respect the opinion of a morning show host or radio commentator over peer reviewed science. Another perfect example is water recycling. A lot of the media personalities made comments such as "I'm not drinking poo" etc which, fair enough is the likely concern of someone that doesn't understand. But the fact they maintain this view when shown otherwise is depressing, considering it would have been cheaper than desalination, which the media pushed as a preference.
  5. yeah totally. it is the thought, not the science, that seems to sway opinion more.

    For instance, if you dropped a toothbrush in the toilet then disinfected it and bleached it, there would be far less bacteria on it than there would have been prior to it falling in. Rationally speaking, using it would be fine, but there is a part of our brain that just says no no no.

    Sadly, this is happening on a wide scale. Desal was a very good example of that. So many billions on adequate stormwater capture and treatment in the sydney basin probably would have done a lot of good too.
  6. +1

    But the pendulum swings, it will swing back again.
  7. There seems to be little understanding of peer reviewed science by the general public. Argument between scientists is part of the review process until a general consensus is found. I agree it is sad to see the people that most rely on Science and Engineering for their jobs seem to some of the most vocal critics. Let the media go back to wood powered televisions and Gutenberg presses I say ;)
  8. I think most, if not all scientists are motivated by a curiosity for knowledge. BUT, when it comes to scientific research, the scientists cant work for free, nor is cutting edge technology cheap.

    This monetary control unfortunately does affect research outcomes. Companies dont hand over millions of dollars to science teams for a pure pursuit of knowledge. I have become quite sceptical of most western dietary research, climate change has some problems too.

    Science still has to be conducted by humans, which are fallible.
  9. We are all fooked until schools teach principles of critical thinking alongside English and Math, IMHO.
  10. I think there needs to be critical thought applied to outcomes of scientific research, particularly when research is privately funded by companies with vested interests.

    But there seems to be an attitude that all research must be funded by private companies with alterior motives.

    There is a plethora of impartial research which comes from people doing masters theses, doctorates, honours theses etc etc. In fact the bulk of university research is of this nature - when not funded out of university budgets the funding will often be requested by government bodies or SOC's. This to me keeps it impartial. Any thing with a university brand can be seen as fairly impartial in my eyes as the integrity of their "brand" depends on it. Same with research bodies such as the CSIRO, or peer review publications like "nature" etc which have an extremely stringent review process prior to publication as their reputation hinges both on their accuracy and their impartiality. The bulk of legitimately peer reviewed research can be considered impartial.

    It is when you get rogue doctors saying smoking is good for you - often cited from publications without a peer review process or without a reputable name - that you need to question whether they are on the bankroll of Marlborough. Although the bulk of the research is legit and impartial, many many social commentators (Bolt and Devine stick out like sore thumbs here) rely on the minority of illegitimate non-peer reviewed research to back up their stories. The trouble is that people lap that sh!t up.
  11. What roaster said.

  12. Agreed. Although I don't reckon the media believes anything but push an agenda that sells more papers.
  13. Yup. I predict we'll see regular witch burnings in OECD countries before 2050. I meet depressingly few people who appear to have the capacity for critical thought and fewer still who appear to actually exercise it. The sooner it's on school curricula the better.

    What gets me is how the hell did it come to pass that a handful of rather second-rate journalists, who moved into commentary because it was easier and paid better, became regarded as cutting edge thinkers and setters of the social agenda? Bolt and Devine are, perhaps, the most prominent but, even as someone left of centre, I have to point to Phillip Adams as not being the godlike figure that many on the left seem to perceive. This seems to be an Australian phenomenon. I was recently in the UK for a month and was reminded that, there, hacks are just that. Hacks. Not bloody social movers and shakers. Maybe it's because Rupert Murdoch likes to regard Australia as his own little private fiefdom and has brainwashed us all. I dunno.
  14. Like MUARC? Government funding/involvement is just as corrupting as commercial funding/involvement. Both have their agendas and will allocate funding to research that provides the results they want.

    There seems to be an elevated opinion of journalistic integrity here too - while f*cktards like Andrew Bolt are at the pointy end, your run-of-the-mill staff journo is also subject to the need for sensationalism and wowserism that sells papers.
  15. I was reading this from The New Scientist yesterday Living in denial: Why sensible people reject the truth

  16. Roaster just used Insane Clown Posse lyrics as evidence to support a point.

    Are you really going to stick with the 100% 'ditto' ???
  17. I'll cook some popcorn for when Paul replies to this thread :p
  18. People with vested interests on both side of this.
  19. I am heavily involved in political lobbying for recreational angling. It never continues to amaze me that 10 scientists put foward research papers that seem to line up with each other but the government takes one paper from a green group and uses that, even when there are glaring inconsistencies. Guess what though, green society means they get the green vote. I guess its a bit like religion, lots of solid eveidence disproving it, but you cannot tell that to a person of faith...
  20. exactly, in the end it's not about whats right or wrong...it's all about the votes