all 15 comments

[–]sodasplash 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (7 children)

I’ve always loved Terry Pratchett.

I find the way that so many people approach science today is very close minded and anti scientific inquiry.

[–]FormosaOolong 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

So true! It's mostly like a cult of Scientism these days, and/or outright corporate-bought "studies". Even high-profile publications like the Lancet, aa well as peer-review processes are laughable these days.

[–]sodasplash 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I would say corporate studies are the number one issue, certainly. And then the way media reports “findings” spoon fed as fact without communicating a real understanding of underlying findings. Which brings us of course to online shilling.

Since the advent of the internet, it’s become far more popular to be scientific/atheist and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the same — and as potentially dangerous — as any other religion.

The issue, though, that really gets after me the most is the use of statistical analysis and its conflation with the scientific method. Stats are big these days but they remain a soft correlation and not a even scientifically “proven” causation. They’re great for predicting baseball — and while correlation can be a great guide — it’s not causative science. There’s a reason investment firms have to tell you past performance is not indicative of future results.

It’s much cheaper to do a “study” using broad statistical analysis of many other studies and it’s also easier to manipulate the data — just use studies that already support your conclusion and discount those that don’t.

Famously, studies have shown that lunch meats lead to increased heart disease/cancer/terrible things. This is a finding that has stuck with our collective consciousness very well because it jives with what makes sense to us (and in all likelyhood, it is true that they aren’t the healthiest thing in the world).

Yet, this remains a soft statistical analysis of self-reported data. And even then, the consumption of lunch meats is linked with a barely statistically significant difference. There were no double blind tests. There were no controls for what other food products were part of various lunch meat consumers’ diets. There was no finding on how much or how little might be safe. There was no differentiation between types of lunch meats. Prosciutto makers were especially miffed as the process for making prosciutto differs markedly from say bologna. Just, “consumption of lunch meats linked to increased health risks.”

It was just this type of study that led to the California law in the 1980’s that is the reason why all wine bottles today must say “Contains Sulfites.” To this day, there is still zero actual genuine scientific evidence that says to what degree and amounts sulfites in wine might cause any damage to humans whatsoever.

[–]bobbobbybob 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (4 children)

he was mean to me when I got a book signed.

[–]sodasplash 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (3 children)

Oh, I’ll bet he’s a total curmudgeon dick. No desire to meet the guy.

[–]FormosaOolong 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

He's dead, so you're safe there.

[–]sodasplash 1 insightful - 2 fun1 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 2 fun -  (1 child)

You know who I was confusing him with? Terry Gilliam. I do that sometimes. For a long time, I wondered how Jimmy Buffett turned a couple songs into an investment empire.

[–]FormosaOolong 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I can totally see the Gilliam-Pratchett connection. That second one is hilarious! Wouldn't it be fantastic if one of the world's biggest moguls wrote "Margaritaville!!

[–]zyxzevn 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (4 children)

What facts are scientists avoiding? Via bias or methodology?

[–]sodasplash 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

That isn’t his point. Let me demonstrate his point.

Here in America, we have laws. Say what one will or won’t about our criminal justice system, but we have laws. Those laws say what one CAN’T do. This is called a blacklist. If you do these things, then you get in trouble. Anything else is fair game (technically speaking).

In Napoleonic France, that’s not how laws worked. Their laws consisted of a white list. The government made a list of things you could do. If it WASN’T on the list, and you did it, you got in trouble.

One can rather easily see which system lends itself to progress and innovation.

What Pratchett is saying is that science isn’t about compiling a white list. To many “science” adherents, if it hasn’t been “proven” it doesn’t exist. In fact, I’m friends of friends with a brilliant neurosurgeon who runs his life this way. It’s made him great at being a neurosurgeon but all but incapable of being a person.

Pratchett’s point is that there’s a vast unknown universe out there. And the more we think we know, the more we rely only on what we’ve compiled on our white list of “provenness,” the more we shut ourselves off from the true gifts of scientific inquiry.

[–]zyxzevn 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

The bias is so huge with these people. I have similar friends, I was even one of them.

Also related to the other Pratchett quote on the frontpage.
I always knew that our knowledge is limited to the box. And I was curious what we might find outside that box. But many smart people think everything that we know is already in the box.

To me it seems that these people are afraid that their world might fall apart, if the box opens. Or even when what we assume is already false, even from within the box.

[–]sodasplash 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I operate from the perspective that there are a few basic “needs” that we all have to get met. According to both Tony Robbins and the society for Non Violent Communication — among others — certainty is a key need.

We need to know that when we wake up in the morning, we’ll have food to eat and clothes to put on. And when we come home, we’ll have a bed to sleep in. That the sun will come out tomorrow. Stuff like that. But also at a deeper level.

A great deal of certainty comes from our childhood. People who were between 3-10 when their parents divorced tend to lack the basic levels of certainty had by people whose parents stayed together their entire lives or divorced only later in life.

From my perspective, certainty can be gained by maintaining and building one’s connection to soul/purpose/universal energy source — i.e. faith in one’s experience. I tend to come from the perspective that people who cling too much to rules, facts, ideology, dogma, etc, have not been given enough internal certainty in their experience and thus try to impose it more liberally on others in a misguided attempt to create it in the external world.

Ultimately, certainty is something that must come internally, since the external is necessarily temporal.

[–]Tom_Bombadil 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

  • The lack of evidence for man-made global warming.

  • The absence of evidence for the big bang.

  • The lack of evidence for dark matter, or dark energy.

  • The evidence that EM is a (probably THE) major forcing macro factor in the universe.

  • The evidence for advanced pre-iceage civilizations.

[–]proc0 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Um tautology? reality-check = facts. It's like saying science isn't about testing things, it's about making sure silly hypothesis don't get false positives.

[–]Snow 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

The fuel of science advancement is suspicion.