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  1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    How the public is at odds with science

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Steerpike, Jan 29, 2015.

    Interesting post that shows how people tend to discount science when it disagrees with what they want to believe, and vice-versa. As much science denial as their is on the right, you find plenty on the left when it comes to GMOs and their share of the anti-vax movement.

    From the post:

    [​IMG]


    The post: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2015/01/29/despite-esteem-for-science-public-at-odds-with-scientists-on-major-issues/
     
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  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    People believe whatever makes their life easier. If religion keeps them sane they'll go with that, if climate change interrupts their three holidays a year they'll ignore it and so on.

    However, what concerns me is the attitude of "I don't understand it, therefore it must be wrong." or the kneejerk sort of "if it feels right it must be right" kind of ignorance.

    • This results in us burning fossil fuels and building useless wind turbines and other sources of "green" power rather than building nuclear power plants, because nuclear stuff must be dangerous right?
    • Or teaching children in the US that evolution is only a "theory" on a level with intelligent design.
    • Or that GM products are bad because some mad scientist injected "cow" into them or something.
    and so on. In conclusion people are fucking idiots.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I've been saying this for years, only whenever I say it people think I'm being funny.
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar?
     
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    At this point I'm not sure myself anymore.
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Scientific literacy aside, we have to remember that the average person isn't doing research or writing/reading papers in these fields. Sometimes advanced science concepts are hard to describe to the average person, and while science educators do a good job, I know that there are some concepts in astrophysics, for example, that I'll never truly understand without spending a few years studying it. That's why I'm kind of on the fence when it comes to allowing the general public to vote and influence scientific policies. As much as I like democracy, some citizens are, as @Chinspinner put it, fucking idiots.
     
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  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It's also worth noting that often the greatest level of disconnect occurs when the scientific issue has been politicized, so that you get a lot of politically-advantageous misinformation propagated in partisan publications, on the web, &c., and then spread by word of mouth and believed by people who want their viewpoint affirmed.
     
  8. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    People are idiots and science is too full of itself.

    There are a lot of aspects to consider when it comes to differences between two groups. One is the mindset of each group. Scientists tend to not mind going to some lengths to further an investigation, so they would not be so hesitant to use animals for experiments. At least it is better than human experiments. And then there are things like genetically modified foods, which is difficult to foresee the long term effects.

    People who are not well informed are bound to make bad decisions, but science knows a little bit and always act like that is all there is to the world.
     
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  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Too true. In 20 years time we're going to look back with soul-crushing shame at how we allowed climate change to be politicized and we allowed the very environment in which we live (the only one of which we currently know that can support our life) to become the plaything of politics. It's virtual Russian Roulette and we're going to lose.
     
  10. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    People have been morons since the very first moron was born. I can see it now:

    Caveman Days
    Grogg: Og! Don't poke that sleeping saber tooth with your spear!

    Og: Der...but I wanna! *pokes*

    *cue everyone running away, diving into bushes, ponds, or clambering up trees*

    Og: *standing still* Erm...was I not supposed to poke that?
     
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There's more to it than just this. It's much more complex why the human brain is an imperfect organ. Where we are currently failing is teaching children how to compensate for their brain processing short comings.

    For example, people naturally assume correlation equals causation. We don't teach kids why the brain does this and how to compensate.

    People apply much higher value to personal experience than to systematically collected data. We don't teach them how the brain sorts incoming data (experiences) and give them the tools they need to test their assumptions.

    It's not hard to understand these basic concepts. You don't need to be a physicist to understand the basics of gravity. You don't need to be a medical researcher to understand why you think that flu vaccine made you ill but we know it didn't.

    The culprit is not necessarily the public. It's the fact that people who own the microphones are controlling the information.

    Edited to add: We need to give the microphones to the scientists.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Great point about scientists sometimes losing sight of what's right/wrong. That's why there are things like ethics committees for medical research.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's a bit of stereotyping. I'd say scientists are more familiar with the research, the need, the cost, the benefit, the alternatives. For every scientist whose work is more important to them than research animals there are a thousand members of the public that don't care about animals.

    Scientists are people and they fall on a similar morals continuum as the rest of the human population does.
     
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  14. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also, if you have an area of expertise and someone asks a bloody stupid question about it, your general response is to scoff at them rather than to waste your time responding. Most people do this, scientists are no different.
     
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  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the cavemen hadn't been out poking everything they could we wouldn't be alive today.
     
  16. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    But there's a reason we now fear things that move in the dark. ;)
     
  17. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    What I'm seeing here are a lot of people who have decided that basic immunizations for their kids might be harmful, so they have chosen to opt out. I'm sure the science behind immunizations is very complex, and to truly understand it would take many years of study, but any half wit can see what they have done for our well being, and why a parent would choose otherwise, boggles my little brain.
     
  18. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure how that makes sense.
     
  19. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're making me kill the joke man. Poke has different definitions if you get my drift.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
  20. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the joke was DOA anyway ;)
     
  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, you guys are just stupid.
     
  22. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    My sense of humour diminishes with fatigue. I must be very tired today.
     
  23. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Sure, some things are easier to understand than others and/or we can immediately observe their effects. It's far easier to make a case for funding immunization research than it is for funding a particle accelerator. It's hard for the average person to grasp the significance of high energy particle physics. Sure, there are books out there written for the layman, but sometimes reading them doesn't help much. That's why I'm torn about allowing the general public to influence scientific policies.
     
  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    How do you avoid allowing the public to influence it?
     
  25. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You can allocate a certain percentage of tax money to go to certain research groups/agencies. It's what the US does now (e.g., like with NASA). Come to think of it, I don't think the public actually votes on many science issues.
     
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