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The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science
Posted: 18 April 2011 06:28 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m not really sure where to put this. If someone thinks it’s better somewhere else, that’s fine.

“A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger (PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s—and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study in psychology.

Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, “Sananda,” who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing.

Read the rest here. http://www.fark.com/cgi/go.pl?i=6124434&s=1

C

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“You can tell me that it’s gospel but I know that it’s only church.”

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“I take a simple view of life. It is keep your eyes open and get on with it.”

Laurence Sterne

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Posted: 19 April 2011 12:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m not really sure where to put this.

If there had been a folder titled “Stark Raving Looney Tunes” it would have been the perfect place for this one, but I suppose this is as good as any.

The people described here sound like they’ve gone way off the deep end!

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Question authority and think for yourself. Big Brother does not know best and never has.

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Posted: 19 April 2011 12:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Unfortunately, I think most people probably suffer from this. Makes me want to be vigilant about my own flexibility in regarding new information.

Although, as always, I do reserve the right to the occasional irrational rant. It’s good for the skin. Maybe.

C

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“You can tell me that it’s gospel but I know that it’s only church.”

Tom Waits

“I take a simple view of life. It is keep your eyes open and get on with it.”

Laurence Sterne

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Posted: 19 April 2011 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Bees Mom - 19 April 2011 12:37 AM

Unfortunately, I think most people probably suffer from this. Makes me want to be vigilant about my own flexibility in regarding new information.

Indeed; thus the wisdom of the proverb that when you point, one finger points away from you but three point back.

Things go wrong for many reasons, they go right for only a few or one reason. Conviction towards present beliefs is only one reason why people are skeptical about science. After all, there’s also experience: lots of scientific studies on things like nutrition have changed dramatically within the lifetime of every middle-aged person here. It is sometimes indeed *very wise* to be skeptical of ‘science’ if by that you mean anything that happens to be published or written by scientists from their works in progress.

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Posted: 19 April 2011 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The crucial thing is to be able to distinguish between proto-science and established science. Proto-science is the sort of thing for which we only have very sketchy understanding. Often there is no consensus within the relevant field, or there is no real field at all. “Work in progress” would be an example of something proto-scientific.

The problem is that given this relatively unproblematic distinction, many people use a reasonable skepticism of proto-science to call into question perfectly well established, consensus science, e.g., with regard to global warming.

And even when it comes to proto-scientific results (e.g., about nutrition) I’d argue it’s best to provisionally accept results which are backed up by the preponderance of good evidence—the preponderance of large, well-designed studies, for example. Sure, epidemiological studies aren’t as good as double-blind, but if we wait for double-blind we’ll never accept anything particularly important about nutrition, because the field is too broad and it isn’t practical (or even sometimes ethical) to do randomized, double-blind, long-baseline studies that would be relevant.

I say “provisionally” accept; since these aren’t perfect studies, best to keep Aristotle’s maxim in the background: “Moderation in all things”.

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Posted: 19 April 2011 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science — By Chris Mooney

Bees Mom - 18 April 2011 06:28 PM

Read the rest here. http://www.fark.com/cgi/go.pl?i=6124434&s=1
C

I thought it was a good and thoughtful article, could have used a little more in the strategies towards solutions ending, but that’s expecting a bit much.  Still exploring the issue through Mooney’s eye was a timely experience for me in light of my conversations over at the SkepticsForum’s Climate Change chat. 

I label Monckton and other liars and layout specific instances and evidence of clear unambiguous lying.  In return I get to listen to researchers like Steig being labeled a liar because his initial results where revised slightly downward in a study regarding Antarctic temperature - or Mann get’s called a liar because early work contains some statistical flaws… that actually only slightly attenuated his famed 1998 Hockey Stick graph. {and I could bring up a few more instances.} Whereas S & M seem to me to be involved in the imperfect art of science and Mocky et al are deliberately manipulating words and facts to further ignoring science. 

As I see it, the difference between a desire to learn and the desire to win an argument.

But in that discussion I noticed the skeptics regularly try to personalize and emotionalize the full conversation and drag it off into some mud fight and then claim they are on science’s side.  If I ignore the parade of direct insults and keep to the civil path, they just pile on more, if I return a quick jab here or there,  I’m nailed immediately for being an ad hominum bastard… and on and on.  When I try to bring the conversation back to the science - I’m back to being a liar because I won’t engage their diversionary questions.

Sadly here’s the ugly fact of life:

“Head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever.”

So, where does that leave someone like me.  I know I’m not the nicest guy in the world and I’m probably a tad more pessimistic than I ought to be… but I try to remain cognizant of my flaws and stick to the science and facts in this global warming discussion, while remaining curious about honest counter arguments.  But, it’s not enough, like the two sides are talking totally different languages and in fact they do have two totally different approaches:
the desire to learn vs. the desire to win

How does one frame the discussion and presentation of information when you’re dealing with people who think through ideological convictions and are already convinced they have hooked into absolute knowledge and don’t want to hear anything that rocks their preconceptions?  Oh, but than I’m the one with preconceptions since I seem to “believe” AGW… that I’ve been interested and learning and weighing the evidence about this for four decades means nothing. blah, blah, blah

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Posted: 19 April 2011 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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You’re not supposed to believe science.

You are supposed to understand science.

You have to decide how much TRUST you put into the people who CLAIM to understand the science that you don’t.

http://www.science20.com/news_articles/string_theory_testing_untestable

psik

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Posted: 19 April 2011 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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String Theory….LOL

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“In the end nature is horrific and teaches us nothing.” -Mutual of Omicron

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Posted: 19 April 2011 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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psikeyhackr - 19 April 2011 01:27 PM

You’re not supposed to believe science.

You are supposed to understand science.

You have to decide how much TRUST you put into the people who CLAIM to understand the science that you don’t.

psik

But is it OK to “believe” in the scientific process?  isn’t it?  mad

... word’s and definitions are really important, but they are just as often used to distract.

As for trust, each of use must decide who we do and don’t trust, but there are relatively objective criteria to help us judge, maybe not perfectly but provisionally for sure.

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Posted: 19 April 2011 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 19 April 2011 02:01 PM

But is it OK to “believe” in the scientific process?  isn’t it?  mad

What do you mean by “believe?” The scientific process is real?  The scientific process is valuable/good/likeable?  The scientific process is trustworthy?  The scientific process is the best process yet discovered for epistemology?

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Posted: 19 April 2011 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Bees Mom - 19 April 2011 12:37 AM

Makes me want to be vigilant about my own flexibility in regarding new information.

Noble sentiments.

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Posted: 19 April 2011 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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brightfut - 19 April 2011 02:55 PM
Bees Mom - 19 April 2011 12:37 AM

Makes me want to be vigilant about my own flexibility in regarding new information.

Noble sentiments.

Hopefully I’ll have some follow through. I guess the thing about being inflexible is that you can’t see it until you’re flexible.

C

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“You can tell me that it’s gospel but I know that it’s only church.”

Tom Waits

“I take a simple view of life. It is keep your eyes open and get on with it.”

Laurence Sterne

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Posted: 19 April 2011 03:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Bees Mom - 19 April 2011 02:59 PM

Hopefully I’ll have some follow through. I guess the thing about being inflexible is that you can’t see it until you’re flexible.

That kind of flexibility has to come from the person themselves.  If someone from outside tried to make someone flexible it would trigger a person’s defenses and they’d just get more rigid.  About all someone from outside can do is acknowledge when someone is being open and flexible which is why I posted what I did.  I’m not saying that I thought you had been rigid in the past.  I’m just saying those kinds of sentiments need to be appreciated because they are so healthy and promote learning.  The natural tendency is to be rigid.

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Posted: 19 April 2011 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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brightfut - 19 April 2011 02:25 PM
citizenschallenge.pm - 19 April 2011 02:01 PM

But is it OK to “believe” in the scientific process?  isn’t it?  mad

What do you mean by “believe?” The scientific process is real?  The scientific process is valuable/good/likeable?  The scientific process is trustworthy?  The scientific process is the best process yet discovered for epistemology?

all of the above   cheese

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Posted: 19 April 2011 10:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 19 April 2011 02:01 PM
psikeyhackr - 19 April 2011 01:27 PM

You’re not supposed to believe science.

You are supposed to understand science.

You have to decide how much TRUST you put into the people who CLAIM to understand the science that you don’t.

psik

But is it OK to “believe” in the scientific process?  isn’t it?  mad

When a baby is learning to walk isn’t it using the scientific process?

If I do this, I fall down.  If I do that, I fall down.  If I do this other thing, HEY, I DON’T FALL DOWN.  I think I’l try it that way again.

That is what I mean about understanding.  When you understand it for yourself then it could be the scientific process.  I It ain’t for sure ‘til you test it for yourself.  When you take someone’s word but don’t understand it then it ain’t science even if it is correct.

psik

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Posted: 19 April 2011 10:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 19 April 2011 04:43 PM
brightfut - 19 April 2011 02:25 PM

What do you mean by “believe?” The scientific process is real?  The scientific process is valuable/good/likeable?  The scientific process is trustworthy?  The scientific process is the best process yet discovered for epistemology?

all of the above   cheese

Take care.

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