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Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/04/2010 3:35 PM

When I say gain, I mean the many seemingly growing followers of ideas that are based on fledgling knowledge, unfounded speculation or some weird definition of words such as Energy, Quantum, vacuum, magnetism etc. Or as one here wrote "banality coached as science". Don't even get me started with the new ager thing!

It's no secret that these wanderings from centuries of solid research and development seem to be predominant with such a large population base, unfortunately more with our youth.

We've seen those come in here with questions or comments where they obviously hadn't even bothered to do the slightest research. Are people truly getting that lazy? Is the internet to blame in some way? What developing social interactions (or lack thereof) play a part in this? Your thoughts?

More importantly what are some of the things we can do individually to help curtail the growth of pseudoscience and the redefining of tried and true nomenclature brought to us by science and engineering greats?

I suspect here at CR4 is a start. Surely some have left questioning their thinking after bantering with a few here! Supplying references to our information when explaining someone's discrepancies, especially the kids and the really young is also a good step.

I can ramble on about this subject but wanted to pose just a couple thoughts to see what many of you may be doing to help with this growing dilemma.

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#1

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/04/2010 6:00 PM

People aren't getting stupider, it just seems that way because the Internet brings them all to your PC screen.

People believe what they read, or see on TV (or youtube), and the Internet brings the lunatic fringe to the forefront.

Just google "Apollo moon hoax", or "why evolution is wrong" or "perpetual motion" or "planet niburu" or "maple syrup cures hickeys" or whatever, and it's out there.

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#27
In reply to #1

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 12:03 PM

Here you are demonstrating how people can suffer from the same ignorance of the basic principles behind scientific theory that helps drive psuedo science. Keep in mind that some things you just take as scientific fact actually do not meet the standards for a theory that physical sciences apply, Evolution is an accepted biological sciences theory but it does not meet the same standard the theory of relativity had to meet or many other physical sciences theories. Many people tend to accept the word science to mean that theories are vetted to some minimum level of mathematical proof/logical argument and then not disproven in a multitude of experiments designed to test the theory. This would be consistent with the process for Physics or Chemistry, however, not so for any biological/sociological "sciences". Theories in biological/sociological "sciences" depend much on general acceptance by other deemed qualified in the field, so an accepted theory for them is more of a political endeavor. Thus discourse against the theory of evolution have just as much validity as those for the theory, as none are formed as rational arguments in a unambiguous logical language, e.g. mathematics is one such language but english or french are not. You should never equate the theory of evolution to the level of scientific theory you equate general relativity, quantum mechanics, gravity, etc.. This is like equating a prion and a human being, one isn't quite a life form though it can meet some very broad minimal criteria and to some may appear as such, and the other is an extremely advanced complex well defined life form.

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#34
In reply to #27

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 3:02 PM

What you say about evolution also applies to geology, paleontology, astrophysics, and other branches of science which study those things not directly under our noses. And, contrary to what you say, each of these theories is testable, and is based in a logical framework. For instance, analysis of DNA is a perfectly valid test of the theory of evolution. An x-ray survey of the universe is a perfectly valid test of theories on galaxy formation. Examination of rock strata is a perfectly valid test of the theory of plate tectonics. You argument is old, tired, and - agreeing with you here - steeped in sociological and political claptrap.

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#37
In reply to #34

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 3:25 PM

Actually, not necessarily. I did not say anything about a requirement for direct observation. There is no requirement for direct observation, just an actual rational theory provided in a logical unambiguous language, which will allow then for repeatable experiments that may disprove the theory. Many aspects of physics and chemistry do not allow for direct observation, but the theories have rational arguments (general relativity, quantum mechanics, etc.). Now a series of DNA test might provide evidence that could be tilized to develop a theory of evolution, but the requirement for a unambiguous rational argument, which by its nature requires the use of a lagical unambiguous language, is what lacks in biological/sociological "sciences". However, bear in mind all DNA demonstrates is that there is some possible relationship between all the living species that have received DNA testing. There are still contradictory studies regarding the occurence of mutations in DNA (rates and causality). Some people conducting studies of evolutionary trees and relationship just use an assumed constant for DNA mutations, though we know that mutation rates actually vary in different species and they also now are suggesting that they differ based on major external stressors. Also, bear in mind that the valid scientific portions of DNA testing are actually the province of chemistry. So the statement is relying on the validity of chemistry to justify some argument that should not depend on the chemistry to prop it up, true scientific experimentation can only disprove theories.

BTW, Astrophysics definitely meets tha criteria for rational arguments, they use math to provide the arguments for their valid theories, so the language used in the argument is unambiguous and logical. In essence what Biological/Sociological "sciences" provide as "theories" only qualify as concepts in physical sciences and have not met the necessary criteria for their arguments to be theories. This lack of a valid rational argument, leaves huge loopholes and ambiguities in their concepts.

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#156
In reply to #27

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/17/2018 2:18 AM

I do not see any of your comments about "evolution" to be valid.

The original theory of Charles Darwin, succinctly, is "evolution to the level of new species through variation and natural selection".

That is incontrovertible reality. This theory is necessary, essential, for explaining data from dozens of other branches of hard science. It ties them together in a cohesive whole. There is no room left to scientifically refute this fundamental property of life on Earth.

DNA, genetics, and mutation were unknown in Darwin's lifetime, yet they perfectly explain both variation and the persistence of traits passed on through inheritance.

What you said is just repetition of unscientific attacks made on Evolution by fundamentalist Christians of yesterday and today. They cannot make any valid criticism. Every attempt just shows their ignorance of facts and use of logical fallacies. They speak of Darwinism as if it was a competing faith.

The worst thing about Christian TV programs is their dissemination of invalid, unscientific methods (and lies) to refute a single scientific theory. Evolution. That, in turn, corrupts the minds of youth; making them incapable of critical thinking about many aspects of adult life.

In this sense, Christianity is the greatest source of Pseudoscience in the West.

There is a similar fundamental cause for the downfall of science in the Middle East. This was the ascending influence of a religious Muslim writer. Among other things, he denounced the use of mathematics to provide proofs. His overwhelming popularity and approval of his writing on religious subjects made this opinion on mathematics untouchable.

Within his generation, higher mathematics in the Muslim world was suppressed, stubborn scientists were executed, and the Middle East soon lost it's supremacy in innovation. The technology of battery stacks and metal refining through electrolysis was lost for centuries, as the "Art" had to be kept highly secretive. (Not as a trade secret, but to avoid condemnation.)

It remains crippled to this day, still downplaying the importance of the material world and affirming the pursuit of spiritual goals. Out of all the millions of Muslims, there has been only one Nobel prize winner.

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#157
In reply to #156

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/17/2018 9:37 AM

. . . there has been only one Nobel Prize winner in science. This was not in an endeavor that required higher mathematics.

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#52
In reply to #1

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 12:10 PM

There are so many valid responses here, insightful ones. bhankiii is the most succinct.

At the risk of wind-bagging I am going to add my two cents.

IMO , one of the things that sets us apart as a species and which I believe defines us as "human" is the need for self expression. Those who work and do research in the field of human behavior have shown the negative consequences of suppressed self expression by overbearing significant others when we are children.

The second element of what shows up at many web sites is the simple fact that we can and do say things across the keyboard, that we would never say in a face to face dialogue, and do so with impunity.

Third, there has always been a hostility between the Liberal Arts majors and those who studied science and engineering. While both domains operate in paradigms dominated by abstractions, only those in the physical sciences appear to be held accountable for translating their abstractions into something with physicality and specificity. Things don't get any more demanding of our thinking than ideas expressed in math. Math is both precise and absolute. One nice thing about Math, engineering and earth sciences is that they demand a disciplined, linear progression of thought. Because of who we are and where we are meeting, we can't help but get rattled when the anticipated precision fails to occur.

I have to acknowledge my prejudice when I suggest that most of the time, engineers think more precisely. They have to. You can't pretend about things like the strength of a wing spar in a jet liner traveling at 500 knots.

I recall reading stats for college graduations and was stunned to read that the University of Mexico graduates more engineering students than all of the US in a given year! Students in other developing nations outperform or kids by embarrassing margins.

I suspect however, that the most influential factor is that our nation is falling prey to the 200 year cycle; a regular cyclical phenomenon that has seen the birth, growth and death of virtually every civilization worthy of note since the beginning of recorded history.

The strength of character and the adherence to traditional values that so populated this Country in the 17 and 18 hundreds are no longer as apparent. We grew to our status as a powerful nation partly because of our willingness to let people fail. That's Darwinism at the level of society and economics. Admittedly, it's cold and perhaps even ruthless until you see the stats for philanthropic activity versus government entitlement. When government did less for people, the private sector did more.

Back then, people, knowing that there were few communal parachutes, worked harder and longer, or else!. Now nobody can fail, the government won't allow it, even if it means spending the rest of us into oblivion.

Like I said: "bhankiii is the most succinct".

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#58
In reply to #52

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 6:06 PM

Great contribution LJ.

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#60
In reply to #58

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 7:30 PM

Great Guga Muga Natural Extinction!!

Acknowledging my post has cost you points for being off topic! Who'd have thunk!

Before they degrade this post, will the real naysayer please stand up?

Thanks N.E!

L.J.

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#61
In reply to #60

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 7:55 PM

I dunno, but I gave you your GA. .. but I have been the divorced parent too, and I agreed with what guest had to say. I was surprised with the negative score...

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#63
In reply to #60

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 10:18 PM

Are you aware that you can vote yourself off topic (in which case you get 5 off topic votes)? That's what Naturalextraction did. Then your post (in response to his OT one) also gets 5 off topic votes, unless you un-check the automatically checked box: "Yes this comment is very..." So this post will be displayed as off topic too -- which it is.

At first, I thought that the guest post that was marked off topic was voted so by its creator*, and then voted back up by people who liked it. But just now, when I voted it on topic, I saw that is had 2 OT votes and 0 on-topic. Now it should show as one OT vote. It seems as on-topic as much of my long rambling one.

Admin can change off-topics into on-topics (in other words, take off the 5 OT votes in one fell swoop). Europium recently asked me to ask them to change a post I made as off topic (therefore giving it 5 off-topic votes) because he felt it was directly on topic. I think the particular post started as off topic (it was an answer to some question that was an offshoot from the original thread) but then as I wrote it, it veered toward the topic.

* wait, no it could not have been -- guests can't vote.

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#66
In reply to #63

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/07/2010 2:05 AM

Wow, could it possibly be any more confusing and goofy? I wasn't aware I could "off" myself this way.

Thanks for pointing that out and the heads up Blink and LJ!

(referencing "off topic" posting, for the rest of you)

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#2

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/04/2010 6:09 PM

There are some legitimate reasons why people would choose to ask a person, before or instead of going to the internet to search.

One reason is that they may not have the right search terms needed to find good answers. They need to ask someone to get the language right.

Another reason is that they may be unable to tell the difference between a good source and a dubious one, because they don't have a scientific background. In other words, they can search all they want, but they cannot tell if the answers they are getting are false or true.

Some people really are lazy. But you have to give em credit for finding CR4 and deciding this is a good place to ask a question!

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#23
In reply to #2

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 10:55 AM

Very well put. I think Bob Dylan said:

Just remember when you're out there trying to heal the sick

That at first you must always forgive them.

The internet is full of wonderful and useful information, but it is also full of nonsense. Sadly our schools and our mass media don't prepare our citizens very well to sort through the piles of stuff and separate trash from treasure. We should be grateful that when in doubt, some people still have enough common sense to ask a professional.

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#3

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/04/2010 7:49 PM

It has always amazed me how many people will take information from a third, fourth, or fifth hand account from some half wit as the absolute scientific truth but yet when talking with a real person who actually does work with something they will quickly point out to that person that they are who is wrong and stupid.

I have driven three pickups now with propane as the primary fuel for well over 100K miles and all three where conversions I did myself too. At least 4 or 5 times a year I meet someone who tells me that I had better watch out when my fuel tank gets low and the propane pressure drops off or I will burn my valves out and ruin the engine. Why? Because they heard from a friend who knew a guy who had a neighbor that they think had that happen to him. Thats why it must be true. Where as my several hundred tanks of fuel having gone flat on me over the years is all just dumb luck that nothing has happened to my engines so far. (Dont get me started on the power and fuel mileage myths I deal with every time someone sees that tank in my pickup.)

I could probably come up with several dozen other examples of where the guy on the street seems quite confident that even though he doesn't work with something and never has worked with something he is very sure he is the expert where as the guy who does it all day long for years on end is the dummy who should know better than to be doing what he does for a living.

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#4

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/04/2010 10:43 PM

Sorry Nat but I find it hard to work up any enthusiasm when dealing with deliberately stupid people. They don't know, they don't know that they don't know and they're usually proud of their ignorance.

If they were half smart they'd have already done some research and educated themselves. Instead they waste their time creating conspiracy theories and elaborate excuses (hello to the Tesla crowd).

So when people ask dumb questions and are trying to learn I try to help, but when people want help building a (say) a perpetual motion gizmo I just walk away.

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/04/2010 11:41 PM

Interesting comments by all. My older sister, I'm 59 but we'll not discuss her age, told me a while back that she was loosing patience much more quickly now than earlier in her life. When I asked her why she told me that she had seen all of the stupid that she could handle in her life. I am thinking that might be a better statement when thought about in depth than it first appears to be on the surface. I will now call attention to the signature line of the post by ffej from Geelong, Australia. The Simpsons aren't the only problem. I am afraid, call me stupid if you want to, that there are too many shows on television now that deals with supernatural events as a normal way of life. It seems that at least half of the shows are dealing with witches, werewolfs and some sort of socerery. I am beginning to wonder if people are accepting the easy way of explaining things, "a wizard did it." versus actually doing some research. I just don't have any other explanation for why these shows are so numerous. Is it just pure and simple escapeism; or, is it some sore of reflection of actual beliefs, or lack of beliefs.

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#11
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Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 1:06 AM

Vagabond, sounds like we think alike. I don't think there's anything wrong with escapism (I read science fiction myself), but I think many people can't recognise what is and isn't real.

I suspect that most writers are firmly in the "humanities" camp. They couldn't understand science or maths at school and didn't see the need to force themselves to learn it. Even when they do put science or maths in the storyline it's usually full of stupid errors.

It always surprises me when an adult confesses they don't understand some common bit of science, they almost sound proud. Me, I'd be deeply ashamed.

By the way the Simpson's quote is meant to be ironic.

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#18
In reply to #6

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 8:14 AM

Part of the problem is that common reasoning is not the basis of education, for many social groups. In this era we are all exposed to a diversity of beliefs and habits of thought of other cultures. Not every cultural group embraces reasoning or science at this stage, and we are exposed to ambiguities at an early age, as to how to formulate our beliefs. Most people start with believing "what you're told", not instructed to arrive at a fact by reasoning.

I've also learned from personal experience, that it is much harder to learn something correctly, if you have previously been inculcated with a 'wrong' version or learned it "muddled". There's a "complete incomprehension" stage where you have to deal with the previous wrong knowledge, before you can move on. And it takes time to assimilate new vocabulary and to lose the wrong use of terms.

There is a cultural conflict between the right and freedom to hold religious or other beliefs of your choice, and the necessity and responsibility to be rational and to respect the rights of others. There is ambiguity and there are double standards, and somehow we have to find a way to accomodate differences and show tolerance until there is cultural maturity for the human race as a whole.

Personally I'm in favour of drawing the line at the point where unprovable "beliefs" infringe upon the rights and well-being of others. "A wizard did it" is a joke on the Simpsons, but there are fundamentalists both muslim and christian who seriously believe in 'witches' and are willing to punish them for imaginary crimes - see Saudi death sentence for Fawza Falih.

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#25
In reply to #6

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 11:02 AM

"She had seen all of the stupid that she could handle in her life."

This made me laugh, can I quote that?

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#22
In reply to #4

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 10:54 AM

"They don't know, they don't know that they don't know and they're usually proud of their ignorance."

Except for the "proud of their ignorance" part I can almost deal with this crowd. It is the "They don't know and they DO know they don't know" that I have problems with. But your observation is very true, I can't count the number of times I have heard "I'm no goood at math" and it is usually said with a touch of pride. I'd be embarrassed.

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#28
In reply to #22

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 12:05 PM

" 'I'm no goood at math' and it is usually said with a touch of pride."

To which I'd reply "Then please keep your hands away from the controls"

Ed Weldon

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#125
In reply to #28

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/11/2010 4:34 AM

" 'I'm no goood at math' and it is usually said with a touch of pride."
Yeah, that gets me too...but I usually explain to them..
No, you are no good at arithmetic...you don't even know what maths is.
But that's 'cos I one mean puddy tat.

Those people are like the early computers...you need to punch information into them
Del

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#130
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Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/11/2010 11:34 AM

PMSL

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#5

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/04/2010 11:31 PM

Perhaps the recent popularity of Zombie films can suggests a metaphor for the pseudoscience crowd. See if this works.

A group of gibbering idiots (who don't realise they're already dead) follow the path of the nimble footed normal people. Although they get hammered down they just keep getting up. They don't seem to want to build or create but rather to drag everything down to their level. They're easily beaten (but there are so many of them).

The heroes can blow their heads off (the metaphor breaks down here).

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#7

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/04/2010 11:42 PM

If you dig behind every new pseudoscience you will find a revenue stream and a good sales pitch. .............Ed Weldon

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#8

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/04/2010 11:44 PM

well......I guess some understand everything and know nothing while others know everything and understand nothing.........or maybe it's the other way.......I dunno

Maybe an approach to critical thinking............nah......that's just plain silly

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#9

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/04/2010 11:45 PM

Don't look at me! I'm one of them.

Tesla is a hero of mine, along with Zecharia Sitchin, godfather of the Nibiru crowd.

I only survive here because I am old enough to have gotten a few extra leaves off the education tree... and I collect books, to which I attribute both my solid knowlege, and my scary knowledge!

Chris

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#12
In reply to #9

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 1:09 AM

Don't get me wrong, Tesla was a certified genius. It's his looney followers I'm sick of.

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#55
In reply to #12

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 1:40 PM

ffej wrote: "Don't get me wrong, Tesla was a certified genius. It's his looney followers I'm sick of."

Your statement is almost word for word, exactly what Gandhi is quoted as having said about Christ and Christians!

L.J.

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#10

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 12:07 AM

Hello NE,

One of my favorite topics, but one I try to spend the least time with, partly because it is aggravating, and partly because it makes little difference at the end of the 'battle'. Whether you are speaking of pseudo-science or any other pseudo-truth, the causes are varied and impossible to control, because human nature is selfish (whether to prove one's self is somehow more enlightened than others, or simply to 'pull the wool' over the eyes of others for personal gain), and the consequence of 'complete control' over the lives and opinions of others is not a lifestyle I want to consider. For me, the only offence is a good defense, and that is to research what I know little about, to try to stay informed, and to make thoughtful decisions about what is or is not okay to follow.

It doesn't matter if we are discussing science, engineering, design, religion, or politics, the issues, claims, and opinions at hand can rarely be cleanly defined as correct or not correct, but fall into many 'gray' areas. For me, there are four categories: I know something to be true; I believe something to be true (a huge difference between knowing and believing); I'm not sure of something, but I am still open to input; and I'm pretty sure something is not true. It ends up being a pretty classic bell curve with the definitely higher population being in the middle two categories, because if we are honest (critical thinking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking), there is actually very little we know.

The other considerations are, how serious is the matter, and what can I do about it? The varied opinions of others with which we are impacted are many, and we can spend a lifetime being concerned about them, but we need to choose our battles. What is truly worth our time to debate, and will our debate make any difference?

I was once close friends (still would be if not for the geographical distance between us) with a true conspiracy theorist, who had an angle on just about everything from assignations to global warming to some earthquake in some far-off region of the world, and he was passionate to the point of being a zealot. He was always interested in pushing me to believe his ideas, and just as often frustrated about my lack of interest. It didn't affect our friendship, but instead we settled most of the time on 'agreeing to disagree'. But, I was no more interested in changing his mind than I was in him changing mine. It just wasn't worth the battle, and definitely not worth losing a friend.

The world is full of those who want to advance their own agenda, and equally full of those who are easy to believe whatever they are told. I can't help them, and it's not likely I can change that part of human nature. What I can do is to try to keep an open mind (not so much so that what brains I have fall out), try to do thoughtful research on those things that are of interest to me, try to be honest with my own judgments, and try to be understanding of those who just don't see things my way.

Kind regards …

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#14
In reply to #10

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 2:40 AM

Hello DCaD and others, so true on many points.

"Whether you are speaking of pseudo-science or any other pseudo-truth, the causes are varied and impossible to control, because human nature is selfish..."

I think a means of control in this situation can start to take place at where these habits begin. I have a new respect for the elementary and middle school science and math teachers these days. There are many means in which to enrich the foundation of learning incorporating the ever layering of information. Watching my wifes kindergarten class proves the importance of establishing solid learning and work habits. Why it's important to complete work and not think about laziness but to "do".

Thus I find it exciting that freshman and sophomores in high school already learning mole count calculations where I didn't get to do that till college. (Granted I grew up in a very small town a long time ago-ish). It is obvious that kids today can learn to do proper research, question the validity and origin of information as well as many adults can. Providing they some where along the line were taught and understand the importance of it all.

I see that many here do take the time to make references, explain in detail and stay (mostly) cordial in their discussions with the aggravating know-it-all. We can have some input to lending a hand to encouraging others to learn more and to understand the importance of "higher education". Because we will continue to run into this problem. Like just about every week or so for some of us.

I've seen time and time again how one can influence another to take steps in the right direction to better themselves in this area. It's pretty neat to see when that happens.

So I don't think it's impossible to have some control in this matter. But I certainly understand the context from which you derive that statement.

On the other side of this subject I have to agree with Ed that; when there is money involved or some shaky business practises, it can become much more difficult to "control".

I do believe that true science will prevail as it often has. I already see a decline in the hho stuff and more and more people are starting to be na-sayers on many forums and even You tube. At some point you have to stop arguing with validity and particularly when more of the masses agree with science. Even if they don't understand it completely. Hence the power of propaganda and mass media. But that's another story.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 4:12 AM

Shedding some reality on the notion truth is relative wouldn't hurt anything but some folks feeling whom encourage such social disruption ideologies.

Who was said Americans are having a brain recession

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 4:15 AM

Dude, your up later than I am, your sick, go to bed!!

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#13

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 1:30 AM

It gets quite frustrating. Just yesterday I had posted a reply to a technical query on another forum after spending about an hour giving links and doing some calculations. Today the recipient sends me a message thanking me for the reply, but that he was too lazy to read it through the argument and study the cited references. One should be grateful that the chap responded atleast.

Younger people seem to want instant encapsulated answers.

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#17

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 7:07 AM

I liked this blog, many of the comments I could have easily made myself....

What was the name of that Jim Carey film "Dumb and Dumber"? (or something sililar!!)

If I could give this Blog a GA I would have done.....

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#26
In reply to #17

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 11:19 AM

You CAN rate the thread. Use the button at the top right corner.

If you are the OP on a thread, you will see the Star rating in your list of threads and blogs

Chris

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#44
In reply to #17

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 10:33 PM

Actually, you can do this. Toward the upper right of each discussion is a button that allows you to rate the whole thread.

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#19

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 9:49 AM

I'm afraid I'll piss people off with this contribution, so I rely on the emotional insensitivity renowned among us scientific types.

If we weren't so arrogant about our own intellectual superiority, this problem of inadequate critical thinking among our fellow humans wouldn't bother us as much. I consider myself among the intellectual elite, but have encountered plenty enough "duh!" episodes in my own thinking that I hesitate to criticize the ignorant. Fortunately, the times this has cost me any loss of cash or stature are few. Even if one is educated thoroughly on the practice of critical thinking, it's impossible to know enough about everything, or to have the time to adequately analyze everything, to not stumble into some blind spots.

(On the other hand, don't get me started on the shysters who peddle myths for their own personal gain: examples are tobacco industry, insurance companies, basically anyone who is trying to block changes that benefit the many at their expense, usually by the use of cheap propaganda ploys. The herd could well be culled of them.)

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Ignorance is no sin. Willful ignorance is unforgiveable.

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#20

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 9:55 AM

Pseudoscience and conspiracy theories go together. In general, there seems to be a great lack of critical thinking skills. After all, it is much easier to turn on the TV and listen to Oprah tell you what to think than it is to actually think through an issue. I don't think that it is a general dumbing-down of the population, but rather that I am more aware of it. Let's face it, public "knowledge" has always depended on word of mouth transmission. And that word of mouth has always been tainted by shading to benefit the transmitter. The difference is that the transmitters can now reach a broader audience via electronic media.

What to do about it? Good question.

My approach is to present facts. They can believe or not believe.

Or maybe I simply decide to shade those facts for my benefit...........

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#21

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 10:45 AM

Emptying the pockets of the ignorant (not stupid) public has been part of a world wide culture since money was invented. However..........

.........my revulsion is aimed at the alternative health care witch doctors. Case in point is an established network of 'seer healers' throughout NA. It targets mostly women with breast cancer but not exclusively so. I suspect it begins at the clinic level where the original medical info comes from. It then progresses into an unsolicited phone call where the caller has had an " intuitive awareness " of the patients pain....and offers an alternative solution. Here begins a journey into a certain and painfull death.

I have had a glimpse of this network and it is very well organized....and as the hook sinks in deeper and deeper so does the price tag. Everything from the purchase of purple anti-cancer uv lamps ($20k) to clandestine meetings with specific healers ($100k) to actual laboratory analysis (in Mexico). It is insidious....and the police can do nothing about it!

We lost a dear friend. Close to the end of her life the actual cancerous node, about the size of an apple, was expelled from her breast and sent to Mexico for analysis. The analysis was a good one....the cancer did not have a root!!!

One day I hope to discover who in our local medical services is engaged in this corruption.

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#24

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 10:59 AM

We could solve this whole problem if we could just find out who "THEY" are. When ever I hear a comment that starts with "Well you know they say ........" it is usually followed with nonsense,

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#29
In reply to #24

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 12:15 PM

I know who represents a considerable part of "they". My parents both spent most of their live working in the public school systems. "They" are the ignorant, arrogant, and over opinionated side of everyone of us!

I grew up hearing stories about over bearing twit parents who clearly had no interest in whats true, real, or even remotely sane or rational coming into schools and having screaming fits over what their child is being taught. What they apparently are most often upset about is when their kid is actually learning something real, useful and beneficial to them. I also grew up knowing full well from example that my parents where just as guilty of having similar personalty and knowledge issues as well.

How dare someone teach their kid that math is logical. How dare someone teach their kid that they get sick from bacteria and germs and then show them that they are real by using a microscope. How dare someone teach their kid that the police and law enforcement are their to help you and keep you safe. The list could go on for pages of what I heard and remember. Even longer if I included what I saw my parents do as well that had no solid foundations in logic reason or rational objective thought.

"they" are the dark side of us and we are all to stupid and arrogant to see it even though everyone else has seen us show otherwise.

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#30
In reply to #29

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 12:24 PM

Introspection will not get you many votes (except this one)

Don't forget we are here to bitch!

I found the following on STL Engineer's profile. (MIA?)

Upon graduation from Engineering School I wrote my family:

"For yeerz a go I coont evin spel Innjenear. Now i are won!"

that just cracks me up.

Chris

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#31
In reply to #29

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 12:30 PM

Wow some really interesting comments.

I've always told my kids, in regards to progress and learning, that stubbornness and pride-fullness are two of the most awful of human characteristics or traits. (I realize there are many other negative characteristics that come into play) Once your mind shuts down and defences go up, you've stopped learning. Progress stops on many levels and problems usually begin.

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#32

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 12:36 PM

Chris -- that "dumbing down" video is a pretty well done sales pitch. I can see how people can agree with it. Pseudoscience presented in that manner can easily gain believers.

Critical thinking requires that we view all such presentations with an open mind that is willing (and able) to look at the bigger picture.

My viewpoint on the "dumbing down" of our population is that it's a consequence of prosperity that allows us to live with less challenge to our intellect. If this goes on for long enough it results in changes to our gene pool.

All too often I view individuals through my own filter that suggests "Had this person been born 20,000 years ago they would have been eaten by a wild animal before they reached reproductive age".

In the midst of the tragic situation in Haiti I hear occcasional reports of how clever and tenacious the people of that region (I have trouble calling it a nation) are. Perhaps we can learn something from that, as disturbing as such musings might be.

Ed Weldon

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 1:11 PM

Ed -- Agreed.

(I'd probably have been eaten ha)

As far as Haiti goes, I think they've been through enough pain, bloodshed, and suffering to be called a nation or at least 'country', and that was before the hurricane in 2004..

All, I'm going to shamelessly post a link to a thread going here on cr4 to help Haiti, in order to gather more interest. We are running into some walls and need as much help and input as possible.

Chris

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#35
In reply to #32

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 3:04 PM

Actually critical thinking requires, mandates, that you view everything skeptically not open-minded. Critical thinking by definition requires you to think critically about the subject. This is the problem with psuedo-science it tends towards trying to get people to perceive everything imaginable as possible and that we must be open to any possibility. You must as a mandate of the scientific oprocess question any theory and seek to disprove it, this is the test for validity that by not failing multiple differing tests/experiments the theory become more valid. I dislike the use of terms like "the big picture" is just a way off saying we need to incorporate more complexity than is necessary into the theory/experiment to confound the results, open loopholes in theories for social, religious and political influences/perspectives (and allow some room for the salesmen and con artists to work), or as an argument against valid scientific results, such as it doesn't take into account the big picture. All of this in turn creates a possibility for an infinity number of correct answers that conform to the theory or findings of the experiment that are vastly divergent. The "Big Picture" tends to be oriented more towards should we do something rather than can we or how, and this is more of modern philisophical than a scientific.

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#36
In reply to #35

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 3:20 PM

I agree with you.. and there is a balance between the conservative critical thinking and Enthusiasm..... and it is enthusiasm and interest that drives people to learn more and popularize scientific knowledge.

and another small point.... this is an engineering discussion site.. not so much a science discussion site. I realize they are interconnected but... One does not have to feel the need to correct all scientific misperceptions that others have... The focus should be more on how-to than why.

Chris

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#39
In reply to #35

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 4:31 PM

RCE -- You and I are on the same wavelength except that for the purpose of brevity in reply#33 I inadvertently picked one of your "hot buttons" to push.

Pseudosciences are usually like a cone of logic that derives from a single or small number of basic "truths" at the apex. To me critical thinking requires the discovery and destruction of that apex. The principle motivation for that act is skepticism. When I used the term "big picture" what I meant was the volume outside the boundaries of the cone.

So in the case of the now discredited Dr. Andrew Wakefield (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-fumento5-2010feb05,0,3589719.story) Britain's General Medical Council forced their esteemed medical journal, Lancet, to retract his paper. This demolition of the apex, to use my analogy, came about because of the ability of critical thinkers to look outside the box, if you'd like to see the underpinnings of the "facts" that Wakefield presented.

Skepticism over any scientific "truth" is necessarily tempered by what we see that supports that truth. If we see a large body or supporting evidence then we naturally tone down our skepticism. But we must be ready to examine the big picture, as I called it, and be equally ready and able to sort that data which lies on a firm scientific foundation from that which lies on "just so" axioms or some statement traceable to a popular deity. And we have a social responsibility to make sure our overt actions and pronouncements are rigorously correct if we risk the destruction of entities that have proven social value. (e.g. the widespread practice of vaccination against infectious disease.)

Ed Weldon

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#42
In reply to #39

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 8:00 PM

However, this goes to why psuedo sciences seek to be peerceived as sciences. The concept of scientific truth. Truths and facts can not be argued against or disproven. There are no scientific truths, only theories, or to use an older terminology "Laws". In essence a scientific process only leads to unambiguous precise rational theories, that seem to accurately represent the mechanics of some system, and have not to date been disproven by reproduceable scientific experiments meant to test the theories.

Truths or facts are not defined through science. This is important, because there is also a sector of the societies that believe anything if they can infer it is somehow a "scientific" truth or fact, and use such arguments to shut down skepticism, which true science employs to substantiate the plausibility of theories. Pure science actually must be devoid of any social or moral context, as this is ambiguous highly variable over very short periods of time, and easily corrupting of any accurate representation of the mechanics of a system. Science that employs moral or social context for its time may be thus invalidate just 20 years later, due to changes in moralities and social structures. Consider just a 20 year period in the US between 1955 and 1975, what was morally and socially accepted practice in 1955 might be cause for outrage in 1975. a "scientific" theory that has a shelf life of just as long as the current social standards, moral standards, or political administration are in office, really is not a scientific theory. Science addresses how things work, what is the process, not should we or shouldn't we. Applications of science can provide estimates of the risks/costs and the benefits, but not which choice is the best choice. Such decisions require more than just science as there are always moral and social implications to all human actions, and while they are valid social considerations, they are not valid scientific considerations.

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#38

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 4:08 PM

Wow. I could go on and on and on and on... (and as it look over this, pre-post, I did go on and on. My apologies to those who make it through. If I had more time I could make it shorter.)

I used to rail against pseudoscience very frequently here at CR4 -- for a while most commonly with HHO lunatics, but also re "magnet" motors, etc. As of yet, not one of these promoters has supplied anything that would lead me to think that their devices work -- at all. No independent tests, no plausible theory, yet numerous "theories" that 1. hold no water, and 2. have been demonstrated to hold no water. I have imagined simply referring people to a couple posts (that I created as a sort of compendium or universal rebuttal - to avoid writing the same stuff over and over) to restore their perspective, and to some small extent that seems to have worked. (The 13 HHO lies is one such post.)

Also, Dennis Lee's being put out of business by the FTC has probably helped -- we recently had, for instance, a previous HHO promoter who has switched gears (apparently, at a time very near the time of the Lee decision) into another, even less likely, apparent scam in which he cuts a groove in an engine's throttle body.** Nevertheless, although I do refer people to certain posts, still, they can come up with creative "reasons" (in which real reason usually plays no part) for their device or concept working.

In this last one, the airflow, after the modification, "literally dances" down the intake tract, causing an improvement of up to 300% in efficiency, the promoter claims. Many tests have shown that deliberately inducing turbulence (even more-organized turbulence -- as in Turbinators, etc.) has no beneficial effect on engine efficiency, when the degree of desired turbulence has already been optimized by the engine designer -- which it always is. How idiotic would engineers have to be to have ignored something that has been a central theme in engine design for the last 8 decades or so? So one could reasonably ask, as I did, to see the CFD that shows the air "dancing", or any study that shows that simply adding greater turbulence (beyond that optimized) to the intake track will improve BSFC, or a dyno report that shows a change in fuel flow per horsepower, or etc... but no support was provided... (or is provided in a general sense). (Instead, the typical response is insults and a shift to victim status: poor garage inventor out to save the world [one incredibly profitable mod -- 10 minutes for $250 in this specific case -- at a time] against the big-oil-big-car-corp conspiracy and against the smarty-pants engineers and scientists who have the gall to say "show me some evidence".]

Some of the pseudoscience promotion posts ramble through perhaps 10 fundamentally wrong concepts, one right after another, in a jumble. Clearly the poster has no understanding* of basics physics, or especially scientific method. Providing such an understanding (via teaching) is nearly impossible in a few posts or links -- so sometimes I just throw up my hands...

But I think all my ranting might have had an effect -- at least it seems that we have had far fewer HHO, Searl effect, magnet motor, and "transformers that produce 56 times their input power" posts recently.

It's no secret that these wanderings from centuries of solid research and development seem to be predominant with such a large population base, unfortunately more with our youth.

This may be unfair to youth. Certainly, youth in general seem lacking in things that should be common knowledge. (Every high school kid in the US should at least be able to pick out NYC, LA, and Chicago on a map -- but only 20% actually can.) However, the scam artists who show up here are often middle-aged, as is Dennis Lee. One recent abrasive (even older) old fart, also an HHO promoter, claimed in perhaps 8-10 posts, that there was a law called "Newtons Second law of Thermodynamics." This is despite the fact that the mistake was pointed out after the very first post, by several members, but he simply became more and more abrasive and abusive in defending his indefensible point. A couple weeks later, he finally caught on. (BTW, lest anyone think that "old fart" is unflattering, rest assured that this is my term for me, too.)

Re: the bad writing sometimes blamed on youth: persnly i fnd crap lik this offensve, on thz forum, comma splices being a pet pev, wher peopl cnt tak the tim to rite good like thy otta shud... I fnd it arrognt an insulting to mak otherz struggl to red yer stuf.

However, I was on a review panel at Cornell University more than a decade ago. (I rented space from Cornell, but was not on the faculty.) I went into it expecting the students (seniors) to be inarticulate, but highly competent in engineering. Turns out that they were very articulate, but unimpressive in terms of basic engineering. For example, they spent a large portion of the project optimizing what they thought was a new invention, having ignored an existing piece of technology that worked better in every practical sense. Stereotype crushed.

I coached an elementary school robotics team not too long ago, and we split up three teams along gender lines. All the stereotypes were disproved: at the regional competition, the girls' team won the technical awards for programming and actual function of the robot; the boys won for team spirit -- they were effectively the cheerleaders. Another stereotype crushed.

So, I am cautious about stereotypes in general, and particularly about assigning pseudoscience only to youth. In my experience, it is just as prevalent among old farts. I have seen, in working with youth, some really impressive stuff, and a level of engagement that can be stunning. My daughter is on color guard (and like many kids, is on a soccer team, etc, etc.) and the color guard group spent 30 hours a week practicing throughout the football season -- in addition to going to school full time, in addition to sports, and music, and hours of homework every night, etc. If anything, we have to coach her to avoid doing too much, not to avoid doing too little -- and most parents we know face the same issues.

In her life, the pseudo science comes (to some extent) from her teachers (even -- and sometimes especially -- her "science" teachers). Her school is often listed as the best (or one of the best) in the state, but some of the teachers are absolute duds -- and the real duds are, more often than not, old. My son's high school, which was a math and science magnet, had mainly young teachers, many with advanced degrees in the subjects they taught. (His chemistry teacher had a doctorate in chemistry of all things!!?? -- how weird is that?) (In my daughter's case, I think she has yet to have a science teacher who has really studied science in any depth at all.)

I find it extremely frustrating so see so much pseudoscience around, because I think it erodes peoples' ability to engage in rational thought -- not just in "science" but in every aspect of life.

What are the causes of the spread of pseudoscience?

Bad teachers? Sure. My daughter is in ninth grade and I can list 10 bad teachers she's had -- some profoundly bad. She has also had some great teachers, and my son has had some phenomenal ones. Overall -- I think teachers are not as good as they use to be... especially in science. It's not so much that they can't teach -- they simply don't know the subject matter. How can you convey enthusiasm for a subject that you know so little of??

Parental disengagement? Sure. You cannot reasonably expect to raise kids via remote control -- which unfortunately is the norm, today. When I was a kid, the norm was one parent working, and one parent parenting full time. Many parents today, by their actions, place a higher value on a huge home and a Lexus and a Bimmer in the driveway than they do on their kid's education and overall development. If we have only one parent working, then we have to live in modest homes, and drive modest cars. Where I live, most of the homes would be considered obscenely lavish by my parents, who were pretty darn well-to-do. As a society, in the US (and increasingly elsewhere in a global society), we have woefully skewed values: conspicuous consumption is the only thing we really do and appear to care about.

Acceptance of profound mediocrity. Consider the recent Pirelli calendar, which without a lot of clear explanation by Pirelli to the contrary, appears strongly to promote child porn. It is not by accident that many of the young women appear to be underage, it is by design. When you have CEO's of a global company saying, "Yes, this will be good for our company's image," you have a major problem. My prototype may never make it into production, but you can be sure that Pirelli is no longer on my list of potential suppliers. Pirelli -- the company that publicly promotes "licking cock". WTF were they thinking?? Just how far can you take "any publicity is good publicity". Toyota's getting plenty of publicity now. It's not good. Write to Pirelli, and tell them what you think. Write to the CEOs of every car brand that uses Pirellis as original equipment, and let them know what you think.

Oddly enough, I am generally in favor of a laissez-faire policy re adult porn aimed at adults. I think most of it is patently idiotic and much of it is offensive, but I will not impose my views on others. I don't feel that way about child porn, however: it is clearly exploitive. 95% (or more) of the world's population draws the line at child porn (even if they accept porn more generally), and there are large segments in the world who are good, decent people, for whom any porn is completely unacceptable. Ordinary Muslims come to mind. And the 99% of Muslims who are very good, very decent, caring people can justifiably (and should in my view) see the Pirelli calender as very offensive. This plays directly into furthering the cause of extremists. Pirelli is deliberately pushing toward child porn, just to be provocative, to get press... any press. They sure lost my business. I used to love Pirelli tires, but would now rejoice in the company going out of business: there are loads of good tire companies... we don't need sleazy ones. Are the models truly "under age?" One would hope that Pirelli is not that profoundly stupid. But that misses the point. They are intended to appear underage. It is not a mistake that one model is "licking cock."

The internet? Yes, there is a load of bad info, but also a stunningly large amount of info we otherwise could only dream of having access to. For kids who have been taught the ability to discern, and who have a real grasp of the scientific process, the internet is an incredibly valuable resource. I've been involved in projects that I could not have reasonably been involved in without the internet. But if a kid has a weak background in science, and has disengaged parents, then the internet can be a source for reinforcing bad science, illogical thought, and worse.

Universal acceptance of unclear thinking and unclear expression. My science teachers did not accept bad writing, because bad writing is a symptom of unclear thoughts.

Profoundly anti-scientific views (and support of anti-scientific views) by many conservatives, by the last administration, and by a very large percentage of the population. Although 1) Ken Wilber makes a pretty good, and incredibly well-researched case for his integral philosophy (Read "The Theory of Everything."); 2) there are many promoters of integral thought (in which there is considered to the potential for erasing the seemingly clear fundamental differences between religion and science); and 3) I'd like to think that the two can exist side by side, without conflict... the facts clearly indicate that the two views (right now) are mutually exclusive. (At least if the "religious" view is taken to be that held by 80% of the US population, who believe that "creation" happened exactly as described in the Christian bible. It did not. The sequence is completely wrong, in more ways than the oversimplified "evolution" one.)

Interestingly, many real biblical scholars (especially at the very best universities) do not accept the various creation myths as anything more than a just that: myths (which can have beneficial instructive effects for cultures). The 10 or 20 creation myths put forth by the major religions (and factions thereof) cannot all be right, because they clearly conflict. (So... should we have religious wars, to "settle" our differences?) Just as real scientists at the best universities are put down, by pseudoscience wackos, as "ivory tower intellectuals unable to think outside the box", real bible scholars from the best universities are put down by religious wackos from the arch conservative traditions as "effete eastern intellectual snobs"... which leads me to another related trend, this one long-brewing.

Anti-intellectualism. Being smart is bad. Being stupid, and acting stupidly is good. Just turn on the TV. Overwhelmingly, the shows are aimed at the lowest (too common) denominator. Girls, especially, are strongly influenced by this. Girls out-perform boys in science and math until age 12, at which point there are strong societal pressures to conform to our view of what a "good" wife should be like: pleasant, submissive and and easily-dominated. Girls who can maintain an interest in science and math can continue to outscore their male peers. But few can maintain that interest - there are strong pressures to do otherwise: you are more likely to get a boyfriend by being coquettish than you are by showing him up in math class. There are far too many societal pressures against girls being smart and assertive. Thus we are, to some extent, throwing away half our intellectual capital. Where I live, in the southern US, these pressures are extraordinarily strong. The are no boys in color guard, for example, whereas in other parts of the country there are some. For a very large part of the population, girls are what we see in the Pirelli calendar -- objects. Pop culture reinforces this.

Rap Music, for instance, strongly reinforces objectifying women -- and when I was growing up many (most?) of the lyrics would be considered obscene, plain and simple. Teens of all colors and demographics nevertheless buy into rap and other music that objectifies women and appreciates them not for their intellect but for their bodies. Parents support teens buying into rap by failing to spend the time to help them make better choices. (No, not all rap is bad, and yes, I realize I am stereotyping.) In Atlanta, rap and the BMF (Black Mafia Family, kingpins of which have been jailed) are strongly linked. Celebrating crime should not be a good thing, but nevertheless loads of people of all races make loads of money from rap, treating the celebration of crime as a good thing. Ganstas are gangsters.

So... in the US and in many parts of the world, we are profoundly anti-scientific, and profoundly anti-intellectual. (China is not so much so, and has developed, scientifically and in modern infrastructure, at a rate far out-pacing the US: they have high-speed trains, thousands of electric vehicles, better coal-fired power plants than most of ours, etc. Obviously, the people lack some of our freedoms - but their rate of development and their embracing of science and intellect is stunning. I have Chinese friends who get back to China every year, and they all agree that schooling there in math and science is much better than it is here. Having a Tibetan Buddhist wife, I am anything but an apologist for Chinese civil rights abuses, but there is little question that scientifically they are out-pacing the US, and probably the rest of the world as a whole. In the age of the sputnik the US showed that we can do well at science. If only we could once again shine.)

Individual parents can speak up and attempt to stop the tide, but frankly... I think there is little hope, here in the US. We have a large segment of the population who are (perhaps unwittingly) just like the fundamentalists from other religions they so criticize. (We have our own abortion clinic terrorists, our own conservative thought police, our own people putting anti-evolution stickers on science books, etc.) Perhaps the only hope is the Integral philosophy promoted by Ken Wilbur and others. But consider that the last 50 pages or so of "The Theory of Everything" is footnotes. This is not a simple book to read, and it is one of his shortest. (How can a country that elects a president (our previous) who is completely inarticulate, and who openly admits that he does not read even the newspaper, expect anything other than falling behind in science and rational, logical thought. (When I was a kid, a C student party animal was not considered presidential.) For every one of Wilbur's books sold, a million rap records are sold, and million page views of the Pirelli calendar occur.

How do we change all this? Actively parent. Read. Speak up. Hope. Pray. Read about integral philosophy, because if we cannot reconcile religion and science, science will continue to lose. Although religions have much in common, it has been the differences that people most strongly cling to (and will kill for). It is the differences that support tribalism.

Science is a unifying force because it is commonly understood, the world over. Experiments are replicated throughout the world. Even before the Berlin wall came down, Russian scientists and US scientists worked together. Religion could be a unifying force, and could be a force helping to see commonalities... but in the last 50 years, religion, with fundamentalism surging in the US and elsewhere, has been anything but a force for unification.

Sorry for the length of this. You can be part of the solution or part of the problem.

*(or they feign no understanding -- Lee, and many HHO promoters, know full well that their devices do not work)

** I've actually offered to test this one at rates far below market rates, but have had no response at all from the promoter.

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#40
In reply to #38

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 4:40 PM

That's a manifesto! GA.

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#41
In reply to #38

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/05/2010 5:18 PM

Well I certainly hope I didn't insinuate that only the youth are part of or the larger part of the problem, if so I apologize. I wanted to bring home the importance of educating our youth with the appropriate materials and information while keeping whacked theories out of it. More important getting them to understand the methodology behind all this science and engineering and why the advancements have taken place. As you've pointed out having bad teachers or misinformed/old school whatever, is definitely adding to the problem. They should at least have a clue. I meet with some tech and science teachers here on a regular basis to discuss exactly these problems. At least we all seem to be on the same page. Kind of a checks and balance if you will.

As to the calendar, wth! I see what you mean. Eegh!

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#46
In reply to #41

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 12:02 AM

Well I certainly hope I didn't insinuate that only the youth are part of or the larger part of the problem, if so I apologize.

No, I took it as you intended. My rant was pretty free form, based generally on my dissatisfaction with pseudo-science and anti-science. I'm glad you took the initiative to start the thread. The length of my post indicates that 1. I need a good editor, and 2. this is stuff I care about.

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#47
In reply to #46

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 12:16 AM

"The length of my post indicates that...."

I'm inclined to create a "Top 10 reasons" list for this one

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#69
In reply to #47

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/07/2010 3:52 PM

Ok chrisg288, here are my top reasons (I stopped before 10):

Sadly, I believe the symptoms of Pseudoscience and fantasy you see are from
1) the systemic lack of training in recognizing fallacies,
2) the systemic lack of enforced discipline in logic,
3) the systemic lack of full acceptance of the scientific method,
4) the requirement of accepting faith over reason - i.e. dogma over theory.

In summary: the inability of our elders-peers-selves to discern and categorize ancient fiction / myth / hypothesis / lore (oral history) / theory within our own religious traditions trains our children not to discern and categorize contemporary fiction / myth / hypothesis / lore / theory in the present culture.

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#70
In reply to #69

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/07/2010 3:58 PM

4) the requirement of accepting faith over reason - i.e. dogma over theory.

In what way may theory equate to reason?

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#72
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Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/07/2010 4:52 PM

I think he means... that such things as 'the Bible is the first, last, and absolute word of God, so there is no need to think... ever.

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#75
In reply to #72

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/07/2010 5:38 PM

"I think he means..."

yea, that's what I meant...4) "Don't think."

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#77
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Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 12:00 AM

One of the many ironies of indoctrination into many of the Christian faiths is parents encouragement of children to believe in Santa Claus. Eventually, parents admit that Santa Claus is a myth, as if to suggest to their kids that much of the rest is myth also (and of course it is, in the sociological/anthropological sense of the word.) If a kid reaches age 8 and still believes in Santa Claus, he or she is likely to be seen as gullible or dim-witted.

This is probably not good training to make people believe in the even more implausible happenings in the great religious books. Yet many people will cling to the myths as if they are historical fact, ignoring all the clear evidence, and divorcing themselves from their ability to reason.

I suppose it is easier to have someone tell you what to think than it is to actually think.

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#81
In reply to #77

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 11:35 AM

Of course in the anthropological/sociological sense myths are developed on some basis or kernel of truth, and are modified to fit the understanding and perceptions of the people the myths pass down through. Myths after all are just a shortening of the word mythologies and tend to be followed by many on faith that they represent the truth that they do not have the time or capability to discover themselves, versus any rational argument, thus a logical proof, that they are representative of reality. Thus there are a few, if not many, myths cloaked under the guise of the word "science". Medicine, biology, sociology, anthropology, paleontology, etc. are great for story telling and mythologies that later get revised to suit the changes in the peer group make up/

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#87
In reply to #81

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 6:56 PM

RCE wrote: "Of course in the anthropological/sociological sense myths are developed on some basis or kernel of truth, and are modified to fit the understanding and perceptions of the people the myths pass down through."

Really? What kernel of truth was there to suggest that throwing a live virgin into a volcano would insure crops that Spring? Or bring rain?

That statement suggests an irrational procedural regimentation with a rational purpose. That's a contradiction in terms. Besides, I've no memory of having ever heard Joseph Campbell say or write such as that, He was the world's leading authority on mythology. Perhaps I missed it?

"Myths after all are just a shortening of the word mythologies and tend to be followed by many on faith that they represent the truth that they do not have the time or capability to discover themselves. . . . "

I've met many people who fit into that description. They epitomize the consequences of ignoring Socrates: "The Unexamined life is not worth living" and their lives look it.

They'd sooner shake an angry fist at the world because they are "Alone and afraid in a world I never made". To which I say:

"Really? Why didn't you?!"

The irony is that those you describe, "living" as they do, are already dead; the walking dead. They are simply waiting for their body to catch up!

Those you speak of are not willing to die for their principles simply because they have none; they are are spiritual robots, Stepford Wives, stimulus response machines at the level of morality.

Perhaps now you better appreciate why Socrates chose suicide over such an existence!

L.J.

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#88
In reply to #87

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 7:46 PM

To answer your question, if you look back far enough you may realize that at one point the original sacrifice was made under the pretense of satisfying a diety on the initial basis that the crops had not been productive the previous season, or productive enough to support the existing population as it were, and over population made the distribution of resources unuable to support the entire population. The decision makers came to some concept that equate to fewer mouths to feed means more food for others under the guise of a divine vision. Additionally, selection of sacrifices originally may have had some other political purposes and sociological purposes in the smaller tribal environments of the stone age. Over time, when population pressures grew, the people perceived the shortage of food as a sign that the gods needed to be appeased. Cathage did something similar with sacrificing babies when they were under pressures the society increased the sacrifices, which turned out in the end to be contradictory to their needs because the sacrifice probably was originally meant as a means of controlling population demands on resources, but they extended it to address all pressures including adverse warfare. The choice of female virgins seems obvious in the context of ancient societies, where girls were not viewed as useful. Virgn typically meant young girls who were not bearing or caring for children, and were not useful for heavy labors and warfare in those times. so in essence they made the decision to sacrifice the perceived weakest or least useful part of the societies in those times so that the others may live better (of course originally probably so the others might even survive another harvest). Over time, naturally as people tend to extrapolate, they come to believe things improve by sacrifice to the gods, and driven by greed, they begin to sacrifice for things other than meer survival, son they equate any needs they have to the gods and a relevent sacrifice. It is the evolution of a myth. The story of the Donner Party, even though there is documentation, has mythical components in our modern society if you ask people about it you may be surprised at how exagerated the story has become relative to the documentation from the period. there is nothing contradictory, it is simply taking something that at one time may have had some validity and exagerating it over time and extrapolating the basic misunderstanding of the simple people through time, and maybe add in a few peoples personal biases along the way. At one time a king or shaman decided to sacrifice what he perceived to be the least valuable member of their society in order to safeguard the rest and in order to explain it to the others maybe claims divine knowledge (just easier that way), and over time it becomes a virgin sacrifice to the gods for anything. His decision at that time might have been relatively rational, but through the interaction of many other humans over time it evolved.

Modern anthropoligist use myths as a way technique, realizing underlying the myth, much like the myth of Troy, there is some kernel of truth the myth was built on. The great flood may actaully have occurred, if you consider what the entire world to a person 10,000 years ago may have consisted of, and how that story may have evolved through societies. Now they are finding some evidence in support of the great flood being possibly the flooding of the Black Sea Basin, which if you lived way down in the basin at that time you might have considered that a great flood that destroyed your world. Now exagerate that story for 10,000 years, add a few peoples biases for personal or political gains in along the way, etc. and you get Noah. Something must have happened at sometime on which people kept telling the story as a warning for others. Just the stories in the Bible (I use it as it is a consistent publication through the centuries) keeps changing, sometimes due to minor things like misunderstandings of the language it is being translated from (aramaic to greek to latin to whatever). However, it is likely there is something in the past that the stories were based on, even if it would now be vastly exagerated and appear dissimilar. However, this methodology of investigating stories to search out truth within the stories to create a new and revised story that seems more plausible story, unsupported by a rational argument, for a given peer group given the evidence limited collected and sociopolitical climate of the time, doesn't qualify as science in so many ways.

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#78
In reply to #75

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 12:37 AM

Thanks for making up my mind

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#79
In reply to #72

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 3:11 AM

chrisg288: "I think he means... that such things as 'the Bible is the first, last, and absolute word of God, so there is no need to think... ever."

Responding to this is REALLY going to be off topic but I feel I must. To do so I am going to draw on everything I ever learned from theology, philosophy, mythology and just down to earth old fashioned, rigorous thinking.

We have for many, many thousands of years depended on witch doctors, medicine men, tribal leaders, rabbis, priests, clerics and all other forms of "spiritual leaders" for our rules of moral behavior.

Whether we grant them credibility or not, institutionalized edicts like the ten commandments form the foundation for virtually all of our moral and ethical conduct.

While different forms of behavioral regulatory standards may exist, like the Koran, the bible, et al, they all depend on mysticism, blind faith, or some other form of adherence to some belief system that is, by definition, separate and apart from reality and can not be defended.

This is not meant to diminish any of those systems of morality or elevate one mode of spirituality over another. "Whatever floats your boat" as the saying goes, or your spirit.

However, one thing should be patently clear: as we have developed sciences and expanded our knowledge of cause and effect in the universe, dependence on mysticism for answers to our most fundamental questions has eroded to the point where few people are attracted to the organized spiritual systems of their parents.

People are now more likely to characterize themselves as "Spiritual but not religious." as a convenient way of explaining a complete lack of any affiliation. IMO, there is nothing morally wrong with that either, PROVIDED, that there is still some code of ethics operating.

And therein lies the rub.

Religion's have given us all of our standards of conduct and with religions apparently falling by the way side, at least in Western civilized nations, little has been done to replace the codes of behavior with something dependable and predictable. I suggest to you that much of our uneasiness as a people is rooted in our lack of uncertainty about others, a situation that was not as apparent generations earlier.

If, as an example, you are living in a community that lives according to the religious teachings common to the some spiritual system, then you have, among other things, some degree of comfort knowing how others will behave under certain circumstances.

Those who do not wish to live by the same codes are invited to leave. That is a significant step up from a thousand years ago where the punishment some got was dramatically more intense.

The point I am trying to make is that we have advanced to the point where we must stop and look for a reliable substitute to religion for our standards of ethical behavior and moral values. To continue to operate as a society without them is trouble looking for a place to happen.

It's not difficult. All you need to do is start with the most fundamental of human values: life itself. All values depend on life for their existence. It's amazing how easy it is to recreate much of the Ten Commandments from that basic value, without having to depend on God or some other deity. Some of the "rules" are so apparent as to be embarrassing. Do you really need a commandment to tell you that it's wrong to kill another?

All it takes is the willingness to assume responsibility for thinking which brings us back to where this string started. One of the consequences of our failure to stop and think is Pseudoscience. There are plenty of other consequences of our intellectual laziness.

I dare not start to enumerate them or this tome will never end. Besides, you know them as well as I.

L.J.

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#80
In reply to #79

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 3:36 AM

well said.

killers should be forced to spend some time delivering babies... to realize life is incredible.

ga

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#115
In reply to #80

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/10/2010 4:09 PM

Hmm, I guess that would be one way top control world population growth, though some of them ones might try to eat those babies too, which would probably be frowned on. Of course if more people were more hands on in child birth, I am sure family sizes would be much smaller.

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#83
In reply to #79

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 2:35 PM

Beautifully said, LJ.

I think that you are really precisely on topic, in the sense that the topic leads from sub-topic to sub-topic in interrelated fashion. The fundamental reasons for the prevalence of pseudo-science are directly related to the prevalence of anti-science. Anti-science and anti-intellectualism (both squelching broad education and independent thought) are both strongly related to the influence of, and misapplication of, religion. The atrocities committed in the name of religion (and against religious people) can only occur with a population that is anti-intellectual: don't think... just do what you are told to do: kill the infidels, in the name of Jesus or Allah. Kill the Jews.

As of yet, there has not been a major religion that encourages independent thought (with Buddhism, in practice, being the exception). Unitarian Universalists are strongly encouraged to employ independent thought, and many of our US thought leaders and founders (Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Susan B Anthony, Emerson, Theroux, etc.) have been UUs. But the UUs do not constitute a "major" religion -- they are effectively a splinter group from the Christian protestant tradition -- they just "protest" much more vigorously than other protestants, to the extent that all types from all religious and non-religious traditions are welcomed at UU churches. Theists and atheist enjoy one another's' company in UU churches, because 1. they see and celebrate what they have in common, and 2. as seekers of truth, rather than people who claim to have found truth, they truly value, and seek out the other's perspective.

It was not until fairly recently that I began reading about integral philosophy (Ken Wilber being perhaps the leading promoter). My first take on it was that it was too "new agey" for my tastes, despite the fact that I come from a religious tradition which seeks to integrate not just science with religion, but (more difficult) (or profoundly easy, taken from a different viewpoint), religions with religions*. You would probably enjoy his "Theory of Everything." I found that I had to begin reading it like a novel, suspending disbelief, and going along with assertions that were not, I felt, sufficiently supported to stand alone without a lot of disclaimers. Some of his books rely on your having read not just some of his other books, but also a great many books on philosophy, comparative religion, and psychology. Unlike the "typical" new age screed, Wilber's stuff is extraordinarily well-researched (and you could spend a big chunk of your life following up on the footnotes).

The gist of it is that he thinks that there is no need to "throw the baby out with the bath water" in either the pro-religious or pro-scientific sense. There is no need to renounce religion in favor of science nor to renounce science in favor of religion. There is, of course, a need to think, and to analyze, and to draw from religion those things of value and discard those things which an analytical process tells you are simply wrong, or not to be taken literally.

(Buddhism, incidentally, should be the religion of scientists and engineers. I have been at gatherings at which the Dalai Lama spoke, and he says: "Take from this anything that makes sense, and throw out the rest.")

Ethics and morality have not been improved by most religions**. Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato (all pre-Christian) did a far better job of clearly stating how to live a good life than most religious great books do: their work stands on its own, whereas the others require interpretation by others -- presumably those with "received wisdom" greater than that of other ordinary men. (Much of the behaviour of Gods in the mythical religious traditions is abhorrent, when viewed ethically.) What many religions offer to lazy people is simple answers and the ability to deny personal responsibility: God made me do it.

Thus, killing in the name of Jesus (the "Thou shalt not kill" guy) becomes not just acceptable but desirable, and religious people are encouraged (commanded) to avoid thinking about the illogic of it. (Buddhism, again, does not fit here, because it centers around personal responsibility -- you reap what you sow, and therefore, they would say, you should think long and hard about what you reap. Buddhism is therefore far too much work for many people. The Dalai Lama would say that belief in reincarnation is not a requirement for practicing Buddhism, and that bad karma can create life in hell right here on earth. He'd say, "If you don't believe in reincarnation, that's perfectly fine.")

The pace of change in all things is accelerating, and the rate at which we must make ethical and moral judgments likewise accelerates. (Is a kid looking at easily available porn on the internet having harmless fun, or damaging his soul. Are the rude jokes in sitcoms funny or damaging, and therefore should your child be allowed to watch them? Is your imposition of your values on your child damaging, denying your child the ability to think for himself, or necessary? [My daughter was the first in our family to become a vegetarian because she could not conceive of killing and eating her dog, and therefore will not kill and eat other animals. We cannot fault her logic, and so we are all vegetarians now -- although we'd had such leaning for a long time. You can't engage in rational thought, she would argue, and ride and love a horse one day, and kill and eat a cow the next. She would argue that having someone else do your dirty work is sleazier yet: if you are going to eat meat, then at least have the decency to slit the cow's throat yourself, listening to the bleating and gurgling.]

Religion does not offer the ability to make the required rapid-fire ethical judgements that must be made in these times, because it is stagnant and discourages the hard thinking required. One minute we are blowing innocent children to smithereens in Iraq and Afghanistan; the next, we are helping Haiti recover. To the extent to which we deny responsibility for the kid in Afghanistan, we deny our requirement to act ethically and morally. The religion of many in the US would tell us that these people are going to hell anyway, so we why should we be concerned? (If we were all Muslims, would we be acting the same way?) If you can intertwine religion and politics and make people imagine an "axis of evil", so much the better, if your intent is mainly to amass power.

Yet another long post here, but these are not simple questions with simple answers. I think a solution can lie in integral philosphy... and the fact the Wilber alone (one of maybe 100 serious thinkers on the matter) has written something close to 1,000,000 pages on the subject helps me feel like less of a rambling nincompoop.

The point I am trying to make is that we have advanced to the point where we must stop and look for a reliable substitute to religion for our standards of ethical behavior and moral values.

My short answer is I think that integral philosophy offers a substitute.

It's not difficult. All you need to do is start with the most fundamental of human values: life itself. All values depend on life for their existence. It's amazing how easy it is to recreate much of the Ten Commandments from that basic value, without having to depend on God or some other deity. Some of the "rules" are so apparent as to be embarrassing. Do you really need a commandment to tell you that it's wrong to kill another?

Amen. The single strongest complicating factor for gaining acceptance of this simple truth worldwide (which we need to do for our own safety) is the eternal quest for power, I suppose. (Along with the fact that the idea that moral conduct is not possible without one's particular religious view is prevalent with 80% of the population in the US, and in other countries where fundamentalism has a strong foothold.)

* This is, on the one hand, impossible to do from the fundamentalist perspective: You cannot take any of the religious book literally, and find another great religious book that agrees with your literal interpretation. On the other hand, is is very easy to find agreement from religion to religion on basic moral principles. Every major religion has the equivalent of "Do unto others as you would have then do onto you." Provided the "you" in this is not sociopathic or psychopathic, then this moral guidance is applicable to the vast majority of situations... and in fact, if you never read a religious text, ordinary living would have you come upon this truth.

** "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you" was said long before Christianity, and broadly practiced and believed by many thinking people. If people actually acted on this "belief" we would need little else for ethical and moral guidance. People who have a need for a belief in heaven or hell, magic, etc to guide them fail to "get" the essence of leading a good and decent life.

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#85
In reply to #83

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 3:39 PM

It's not hard to write long works on infinite and eternal topics. GA.

Chris

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#89
In reply to #83

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 11:04 PM

Beautifully said LJ and Blink. I agree with all that you have said. It seems to me, and apparently others, that some of this falls into inherent common sense. But looking around this world that is so not the case. Glad to see some adhere to the same philosophies. It is on topic as your statements gives some philosophical and psychological basis to pseudoscience. Many others have made some fantastic comments on this subject matter as well. Rather eye opening for sure.

My two boys (17 & 20) have asked many question in reading this thread. We've had some good and rather heart warming/opening discussions over all this. Just in that alone, this thread has been worth if for me! Thanks for you input, I hope it's stimulated other thoughts and conversations outside CR4.

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#101
In reply to #89

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 4:03 PM

Thsi post and the post mentioned within should make it exceedingly clear why psuedoscience gaisn so much in our societies. A page and a half philosophical rant that is way off topic against religion, religion is philosophical doctrine, the two are not mutually exclusive however, as philosophy and science answer things differently. this types of philosophy, versus pure logic, is highly interpretive and by its nature can not be disproven through experimentation. the many different types of philosphies are just types of religions to the followers of those philosophies. Science is purely a search for the mechanics of some system through a consistent process which is based on the development of a rational theory, expressed in a logical unambiguous language, to explain some observations, that must then be tested through experimentations designed at its root to disprove (as you can never experimentally prove a theory). Science is a mechanism for finding the truth. Science contradicts the concept of common sense which depends on people assuming and extrapolating things based on some kind of knowledge retiained through someone previous experiences conveyed through others. Common sense is not tested comprehensively, and frequently leads to a variety of problems. I observed a good example of a more scientific approach in conflict with common sense in this movie on HBO the other night about an autistic who gets a MS in animal husbandry or something, and proceeds to become an expert on cattle. If you watch she has no common sense and this affords her the opportunity to conduct unbiased observations and study the mechanics of the systems employed by the cattle industry in order to develop theories that would improve performance. At one point she designs a cattle dipping process based on her observations and theories that should reduce mortalities, and first thing the cowboy foreman does when he arrives is use his well established common sense about how such a system should work efficiently and modifies her design behind her back, and kills a bunch of cattle. Admittedly hear theories were not properly expressed to meet a criteria of a scientific theory, but she did approach the process of unbiased observation better than the people who had the experience and common sense.

Common sense is really just something learned through limited exposure/observations (or experience) and hearsay from others who can not explain the mechanics of why something occurs the way it does just that they have observed it occurring in this manner in the past (given their own limited experience, hearsay and observations). Consider it is common sense not for a child not to grab a hot pan, once they have been told or have been burned (or nearly burned), but no one ever explains the mechanism to getting burned by hot objects to the child, as it is likely to complicated for the adults to understand, they just know it happens, through exposure. Common sense is what make magic seem real to people, because something appears to violate their experience or hearsay knowledge there fore it must be somehow outside the realm of reality as they understand it and magical. Common sense really is just a set of rules to follow without any real explanation of the mechanics. Science attempts to explain the mechanics in an attempt to predict the possible outcomes. Common sense says if you do that this will occur, and we know this because it has occurred in a somewhat similar situation in the past to that person or someone else, it is Casuary. If you really wanted to teach your children you would explain to the difference, because common sense requeres acceptance of the rules it sets forth, and science investigates those rules to find the mechanism and determine the validity. A flat earth is common sense, science has to expalin to us why it is invalid or a falicy.

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#102
In reply to #101

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 4:52 PM

A flat earth is common sense, science has to expalin to us why it is invalid or a falicy.

A most valid introspection and one with much merit I dare say. Science on it's own cannot have come into existance without the 'belief' systems of the past. It is the observations and experience of our ancestors, their attempt, rightly or mistakenly, to come to understand those things that their lives were centred around. This caused certain individuals to explore further and to begin to evolve the nature of understanding...or as some would put it: critical thinking.

Perhaps then it is our own nature which has today become complacent with the advent of immediate gratification through technology and forgotten parenting skills.

I believe this explains the students dead pan faces Laughing Jaguar mentions. Something has definately been lost amongst many of the youth of today.

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#103
In reply to #101

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 5:05 PM

Temple Grandin, she has several books out too! great story.

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#129
In reply to #103

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/11/2010 11:31 AM

Yes Temple Grandin, she is a professor at colorado State, I believe. Her autism allowed her to be observant and detail oriented, and it also allowed her to not be biased by common sense. While this posed a problem for social interaction, it was a benefit for her research.

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#105
In reply to #101

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 6:31 PM

RCE wrote: ". . . . . religion is philosophical doctrine, the two are not mutually exclusive however, as philosophy and science answer things differently."

That's like arguing that One is equal to Zero!

There is a battle going on right now in the schools about efforts to introduce thinly disguised creationism in opposition to Darwinism. What makes it offensive is their efforts to call that argument a science! That the ploy got so far as a courtroom before being shot down is embarrassing. That it did get so far is further evidence of the voracity of proponents of pseudoscience.

That global warming is now viewed by some as a religion is further evidence of how the distinction between science and pseudoscience has gotten muddied. I try to explain that other planets in our Solar System are experiencing the exact same increses in temperatures and show them data attributed to scientists at JPL in Pasadena. "It's the Sun dummy!" but they refuse to entertain the obvious contradiction. Denial of reality is impossible to get away with in science!

It also validates the teachings of one of my mentors who believes that one of our fundamental flaws as a species is our failure to make fundamental distinctions.

I attempted a fair amount of study on the principles underlying epistemology and came away with the sense that I'd wasted valuable time until I realized that while I am no closer to understanding how people think, I did come to appreciate the limitations of using conventional abstractions when defending a position. I also came to understand why some of the worlds best Philosophers were theoretical mathematicians. At their levels of inquiry, conventional language and its foggy distinctions don't work. 1 will never equal anything but 1

That is a double edged sword, especially for one as passionate about engineering and design such as I. The words I use here are abstractions; symbolic interpretations of things that really do not exist except in my imagination. The same goes for that complex 3D model I've created spinning around inside the virtual world of Catia, Solidworks or Pro E. Only when those abstractions can be validated in Reality by my senses does my psyche rest easy. Virtually everything I do with a computer is really unreal, including this conversation. To forget that and believe it's real is to be on the threshold of insanity

I sense a distrust of the senses in your argument. If that estimate is warranted then I suggest that the problem lies not with the senses so much as with the choices and decisions we have already made.

We place things into categories; constructs for organizing. It is human nature to only experience things that are consistent with our prior decisions about the world. Once that pattern of selected experience starts, true learning ceases. From that point on we are merely stimulus response mechanisms with about as much choice as Pavlov's dog.

Bigotry and prejudice are built on this phenomenon. Unfortunately, so is religion, be it organized or not.

I still abide by the most fundamental rule for testing any theory: its ability to consistently predict future behavior. I am an Aristotelian to the core in spite of many decades studying human behavior and the things that influence how people show up.

I got my nickname from a well known South American shaman after hours of beating drums and chanting around a campfire in the woods. A buddy looked at me through the smoke and rising sparks and muttered: "Man you are fun! And you are weird! The engineers I know don't chant at campfires or beat drums."

My response: "You've been hangin' out with the wrong engineers! Hang out with ME's who are fun!"

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#106
In reply to #105

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 8:18 PM

keep in mind that darwinism is an -ism, a philosphical belief system. The theory evolution has much to be developed to meet the criteria of a scientifically acceptable theory, it may be correc, but being correct is not the mandate to meet that stanbndards of science. I believe a real look at the theory itself in an unbiased comparison with the requirements to being a theory in science would truly surprise you. Plus the faithful zealot are just are zealous about darwinism as comminists or catholics are about their beliefs.

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#107
In reply to #106

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 10:05 PM

Yes, Belief Systems do get in the way. I am in agreement with the Buddhist point of view that it's our attachments that keep us stuck.

Whether those beliefs deal with a deity or with a scientific principle is of little importance to me. It's the activity not the subject matter that counts. I spent a year designing components for a Fusion Reactor in an environment teaming with PhDs. It's amazing how candid they became after a third glass of wine about the futility of the theories driving the place. The "kids" dare not tell the Emperor that he's naked or they'll get beaten up by the crooked tailors for sure.

It's clear that those who feel the need to believe in God are betraying the fact that all they have experience in life is religion. That's a crying shame.

Those who have experienced God have no need to believe and, not surprisingly, have no need for religion either.

It's unfortunate that our identities are so tied up in all this. It encumbers any tendency to let go and start once more Tabular Rasa. Expecting that is kind-of-like expecting a Jesuit Priest to consider the possibility of atheism, if only a moment, after a lifetime of being a priest.

It would be like watching a fish gasping for air when pulled from his water.

The Laughing Jaguar

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#113
In reply to #101

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/10/2010 3:00 AM

RCE, I have been uncomfortable with your response and have gone back repeatedly in an attempt to understand what it is about the post that does not sit right with me. With each subsequent reading I have begun to see that you have made many assertions in your post, that under closer examination, do not hold up, not individually and not collectively.

Philosophy, versus pure logic, is highly interpretive.

Philosophy, can not be disproven through experimentation.

. . . many types of philosophies are just types of religions.

you can never experimentally prove a theory (I especially enjoyed THAT one)

Science contradicts the concept of common sense (I suspect that often, it's the other way around!)

I observed a good example of a more scientific approach in conflict with common sense in this movie on HBO the other night.

In a subsequent post I quoted Ayn Rand who reminded us that contradictions do not exist in nature, only in the minds of men.

Your arguments are flawed.

What I find especially disappointing is an underlying current of disrespect for our abilities as a species and an unspoken but omnipresent condescending tone that we are, all of us, incompetent and incapable of knowing.

L.J.

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#114
In reply to #113

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/10/2010 11:55 AM

You actually can not prove a scientific theory by experimentation, only disprove it. This is actually why the trend was to move away from the use of terms like Laws and Principles, because scientific theories are not set in stone and may be disproven someday. This is a very basic concept of the scientific method, so it should not seem unusual to anyone. There is no experimental proof of a theory, experiments disprove theories. This is the common mistake of those ignorant of the methodology to assume experiments prove theories. Theories are accepted based on the fact that peer review could not find a logical flaw in the argument for the theory, and that repeatable controlled experiments conducted did not disprove the theory.

Additionally, keep in mind common sense is just a lazy construct of man, and thus not part of nature per se, designed to give a quick answer for an ends when we do not understand the means adequately. It is just common sense, everyone knows that is an easy way of saying I don't know why such is the case but i have heard or experienced something that indicates this will occur if this happens. It is very lazy.

I am not sure about human incompetence, but the concept of common sense is really a mechanism used by those who have experience but lack the understanding to explain or convey that experience without any attempt to understand or explain understanding. It is something i think is pretty common to the majority of the people to not investigate cause relationships to every experience, but to accept you do that and this will happen, and you accept it. Most people perceive it as too cumbersome and/or time consuming to investigate causes for things they consider mundane (if they didn't we probably would not have words liek mundane in our language).

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#90
In reply to #83

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 2:18 AM

Hi Blink!~

Thanks for the kind words. You as well Natural Extraction.

Most everything I know has been taught to me by others. I've never been smart enough to pick my own teachers, yet mysteriously, they were always there at the appropriate time when needed.

Eric Hoffer is one of the more memorable ones and while I never got to meet him personally, one of my more revered teachers used to play chess with him down on the docks of San Francisco

I bring Hoffer up in the context of what you wrote Blink in response to my tome. You wrote:

"The atrocities committed in the name of religion (and against religious people) can only occur with a population that is anti-intellectual: don't think... just do what you are told to do: kill the infidels, in the name of Jesus or Allah. Kill the Jews."

I respectfully disagree and I strongly believe that were Hoffer alive he would disagree with you as well. He would use likely pre-war Germany as a compelling arguement for disagrement.

Germany was and continues to be one of the most educated societies in western Europe. What disturbed Hoffer a great deal was that with all it's education and a history rich in cultural and intellectual advances, it still surrendered itself body and soul to a raging megalomaniac who rewarded its subservience by almost destroying it and the rest of the world along with it.

His book "The True Believer" demonstrates an astonishing insight into the psychology and behavior of mass movements. What helped make that treatise such a cold shower to those schooled in Sociology was that Hoffer was a self taught laborer, a dock worker with little formal education in that discipline. Still, "The True Believer" made a significant impression on President Dwight D. Eisenhower who was heard to quote the book in public many times. (Just as an aside, notice that Ike chose intellectual achievement over scholastic credentials; the exact opposite from today's influencial mentors to the White House)

The True Believer syndrome has been alive and well for some time. Evidence of that assertion can be found in the behavior of followers of everyone from Jesus Christ, through Gandhi, to Hitler, to David Koresh and to the Jim Jones Cool Aid megacide in Africa. It runs ramped in the minds of suicidal terrorists with bombs strapped to their chests in the Middle East.

Anti Intellectualism is not, as you suggest, at the core of such behavior, but rather a discontent with self, society or both and a desperate need to believe in something or someone outside themselves. (Parenthetically, this just might even explain the mythical sacrifices discussed earlier)

They all have in common the compulsive need to elevate some symbolic figure who is placed on a pedestal and worshipped like the promised Messiah, for attributes that exist only in the minds of wishful followers, hence the term True Believers. It is the common need for such leaders that form the basis of the heroes in movies like "The Matrix" which so enrolled theater audiences.

True Believers are a fickle and disloyal lot however, and quick to turn against their chosen Messiah at the first cold shower of Reality, as Barrack Obama is finding out.

Like Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and other compelling orators, Obama used his very effective oratorical skill in speeches that manipulated the discontent that prevailed in our Country. It was that skill that turned the disenchanted in his favor with words of Hope and which put him over the top in the election. Now they are seeing that "He is NOT the one." Those familiar with Hoffer's book and the transient loyalty of True Believers, knew it would happen and were not surprised when it did.

This tome is not an indictment against language! Language, by itself, is neither good nor evil it simply IS. It's who uses it and his motives that makes the difference. And, as I suggested earlier, it is the morally bankrupt, intellectually lazy and most especially, the disenchanted who are most vulnerable to the Pied Pipers of history.

As Nietzsche pointed out, it is not the strong who are the greatest threat, but the weak. Until the starving nations of this planet are up to the standards others enjoy, they will continue to be breeding grounds for violence, intense suffering and discontent and ripe for manipulation by those who would do us harm.

Language continues to be THE most powerful tool for manipulation of listeners. They need not be anti intellectual Blink, just blind to the source of their discontent and desperate for a savior.

Guys like Osama Bin Laden just love it!

L.J.

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#91
In reply to #90

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 10:44 AM

excellent. GA. thank you

Chris

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#97
In reply to #90

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 2:29 PM

Again, very well put.

I think you are right regarding my use of the term anti-intellectualism. Even as I first wrote it, I squirmed a little, because at that instant I thought of my father, who is very capable intellectually (valedictorian, highly creative, etc.) but at the same time phenomenally bigoted in ways that seemingly defy logic. He is perhaps the last one to admit that he is a True Believer, but he has created his own view of the world, and actively and selectively screens out those experiences which do not support his view.

And certainly, in pre-war Germany there were many very smart people promoting the Nazi cause, and loads of smart people supported The Inquisition.

There are shades of meaning in the terms Anti-Intellectualism, anti-intellectual, intellectual laziness, and the pop culture affection for what we might call stupidity or utter lack of common sense. I want to say to my father (and others like him) "How can you be so "stupid" to have observed this and this, but to then conclude such and so?" But it is not stupidity, it is the True Believer syndrome.

One advantage of getting "more mature" is that some things seem new again. I read a little Hoffer decades ago, and was impressed, but don't have a clue if I read True Believer. I'll pick up a copy.

Thanks For your thoughts,

Blink

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#108
In reply to #79

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 10:30 PM

I just wanted to add my two cents to the issue of where standards of conduct come from when religious doctrine is not the source.

My parents are atheists, but very moral people. I was raised to "think about your behaviour" and to apply the basic principle "do unto others". Put yourself in the other person's place and consider your actions.

As you pointed out, this is a universal principle of morality shared by people everywhere. It is also very easy to understand, even for a small child.

It is not science. And it is not religion. But it is very important, it is fundamental to be able to imagine yourself in another person's place. I won't say human quality, because I have no reason to believe that other living things are incapable of the same. What is this thing that we do, that allows us to consider others, and why is it universal and natural to all?

Some of the debate in this thread has touched on fallacies in evolutionary theory, very sore points of contention that often degenerate into baby/bathwater rejections for just one reason, that "evolution" and "darwinism" are not the same thing, but they are treated as the same.

So let's get this straight. It is a testable and proven fact that all life on this planet has a common origin, shared DNA, and that complex forms of life have emerged from this shared life script, in diverse forms that complement one another. The exact mechanisms of emergence are not proven, they are contentious but that really should not matter in our civil discussion. We should stick to the facts, otherwise all speculations are equal.

Darwin was the messiah of evolution. He pioneered the idea that life forms are related and have a common source, and for this direction in science we should all be grateful, because it is true and has been a very fruitful.

But like other messiahs, he was not perfect. His book is not a gospel, and "scientists" who take it hook and line are no different from fundamentalists. His work has spawned some false lines of reasoning which persist in the public psyche in spite of the fact that they have been disproven by objective research in the natural world.

Darwin's model for the mechanisms of evolution was influenced by his human environment: overpopulation, scarcity, and competition within his own species and locale for scarce resources.

The problem with this perspective, for science, is that it is focused at the scale of within-species boom and bust population dynamics. It does not begin to address the inter-relationships of species and kindoms in the life system, where mutualism is the driving force behind coevolution. And it does not apply to frontier populations where, in spite of scarce resources, the serious challenges to survival call for cooperation, heroism, and altruism as the favoured traits.

Abundance and diversity are the fundamental characteristics of life, driving the success of life as a whole. Generosity and plenty are written into the script, and they drive the dynamic of competition on the smaller scales.

The quest to understand ones place in the whole of life is, for me, the 'spiritual' and also the science. And it includes that thing that isn't religion or science, consideration of other living beings.

Evolution is not Darwin. The scarcity model "survival of the fittest" "nature red in tooth and claw" and social models that emerge from that narrow view are not optimal, they are plain stupid, and the use of Darwin to justify selfishness, racism, or violence is a crock. Darwin's "moral" legacy stinks, and it's not scientifically fit either. I doubt he intended it to be turned into a polarized gospel, but this is a social phenomenon suffered by every great thinker who put words on a page.

Pseudoscience was the subject of the OP. Thinking on the larger scale, is it any wonder that people cast about with ideas about the unknown. What our children need to learn is not to exclude speculation about the unknown, but they need to know the difference between what is knowable and known, and what is unknowable and/or unknown. Complete freedom of thought is a good thing: speculation about the unknowable and the unknown should never be forbidden. Understanding and defining terms is essential, however, and using reason to construct reasonable theories as delineated by AvidOg is a habit to be encouraged.

Cheers to your kids, NE, and I welcome them to CR4. This post is for them.

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#109
In reply to #108

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 11:47 PM

Thank you very much artsmith, I've printed out the post already and a couple others for more discussion with my boys at our local coffee hang out. I'll be curious for their input. It's been a blast actually. Thanks again artsmith, great points!

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#110
In reply to #108

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/09/2010 11:52 PM

A great post and well written! I am jealous of NE's boys!

It might be of interest to you to learn that the mentor who pointed at Life and asked that I view it as being the ultimate value, and thus the foundation for the entire hierarchy of values, was herself an atheist.

Her name was Ayn Rand.

Our dialogues were few, often brief and frequently intense. Were she a witness to these dialogues, I know intuitively that she would lay a hammer to pseudoscience in an adrenalin heartbeat and she would be mad as Hell for any tolerance for it.

"There are no contradictions in Reality. . . . only in men's minds!"

There was no greater proponent for the sanctity of rigorous, purposeful thought than she and while I recognize that the use of the word "sanctity" may appear out of place when discussing an atheist, it fits. Thinking, for her, was the "holiest"of endeavors though I know her expression would have soured quickly at such choice of words.

Laughing Jaguar

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#117
In reply to #79

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/10/2010 5:00 PM

I hope this entire rant doesn't depend on the idea presented that people with different religious belief, and religious standard of conduct, will be invited to leave. How would you characterize Roman Civilization then, as they were extremely open to a variety of religions of very different codes of conduct, as long as everyone followed the Roman legal codes (not necessarily religious beliefs). Organized Religion has always been in a contest of wills to control peoples conduct agaisnt the communities legal systems even back 5,000 year to early egypt. If you really do some research you will frequently find religious codes can be altered by the local political systems, which actually maintain primary control of social conduct, if they do not suit those in political power or zealots. Consider in the context of their own religions of their society during their times Henry VIII, Martin Luther, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, et. al.. There were different religious standards they had been raised to follow, and with some thought they made the conscious decision to go against their religion and the codes of conduct within those religions that they did not like. Much like people today, it is just easier to let some one in authority, legal, moral or spiritual, direct you in how to behave rather than really thinking through the morality of your actions. Today however, there is a certain amount of religious faith in anything that carries the title science along with it, and this in part leads to those who seek power and influence trying to validate their beliefs through attachment to the word science. Over time this erodes the public trust in true science, as many of these personal agenda under the cloak of science become apparent, must continuously be revised or provide no accuracy and precision of prediction, and/or their failings are exposed. Something of note in distinguishing science from religion or law. spirituality is just a means of saying a person would rather not have to really rationally think about something, but would rather constuct some simpler explanation for the mechanics of a system. Afterall, for most people it is easier to just believe there is a god of lightning then to understand electromagnetism.

Science can quantifiably accurately and precisely predict specific defined future events based on a set of initial parameters and external driving forces, e.g. gravity. this is what makes it must trusted by the modern public. Predictions by spiritual leaders or political/legal authorities tend to be inaccurate, imprecise, unrepeatable, and/or ambiguous providing no quatifiable and predictable results. The application of law can change from case to case, and thus since the law is based on previous cases, the laws changes too. Religious values change in very short periods of time with changes in authorities, social composition, and many other factors, consider something like slavery through out the history of the church, which is allowable under the 10 commandments. the problem with providing quantifiable accurate, precise prediction is when some biologist develops a "theory" about Kit Fox habitats and migration patterns, the causes of delta smelt mortalities, etc. that is later shown to be flawed and is substantially revised or disavowed, then it erodes the public trust or belief in the accuracy or precision of all scientific theories in general. While this in some ways may not be a bad thing as it would mean people would have to conduct some research on their own to validate the different scientific theories they seek to apply, it probably would be extremely cumbersome for every person in society to think for themselves and have to conduct the experiments/research needed to validate every scientific theory that they must apply daily. Thus they tend to have common beliefs some conveyed from hearsay, direct experiences, or from others from religious, legal or scientific authorities. It saves the time, labor and effort for the majority of the public that feel they need to spend more time shopping or playing Xbox. As long as science can continue to make quantifiably accurate and precise predictions, and people continue to suffer from any number of environmental stressors, diseases, wars, overpopulations, food shortages, water shortages, etc., it will be in the forefront as it can predictable provide theories that can be utilized for solutions that address such problems. Spirituality and religion on the other hand really doesn't provide tangible solutions, but rather it is easier for people to understand and less rigorous, flexible to their imaginations and intellectual limitations, and provides hope it makes them feel better about the possibilities for their futures (or allows them to turn a blind eye, you know hear no evil, see no evil... a diety may step forward and save them or take them off to heaven, or some such thing)

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#74
In reply to #70

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/07/2010 5:24 PM

Theory is "scientific method" term for a comprehensive overview and insight into phenomena that is consistent with all prior (accurate) data about said phenomena.
True theories make (unexpected) predictions that are testable or refutable.
Theories usually bring disparate scientific knowledge into a new harmony. Usually they refine, else sometimes shatter, previous Theory.
It may be inspired by hypothesis (hunches) and new data, but reason is necessary to make new - testable - predictions and reason is often necessary to design experiments or observation tools to prove or refute a theory.
A philosophy may be consistent with all knowledge, but unlike a theory, it makes no testable/refutable predictions. In this way it is intractable to reason.

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#86
In reply to #74

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/08/2010 4:43 PM

This definition however would not allow for many of the non-phsyical science "theories" as you can not develop a comprehensive test for many of them until the physical science develop enough to provide a scientific basis for the "theories" and test the basis.

This is one of many major juxtapositions between physical sciences and the other "sciences". Most other sciences develop "theories" based on a kind of evidentiary casuary system that the interconnect by some means of argument. With limited evidence they compare to existing cases they understand and draw forth some theory, then in order to justify the casuary linkage and correlate the limited evidence they create some argument typically in an ambiguous language that allows a great amount of interpretation. Whuile they may be correct, it would be an unacceptable means of providing an argument for theory in physical sciences just because of the imprecision and ambiguity.

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#155
In reply to #70

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

06/02/2016 10:37 AM

I am referring to scientific theories as opposed to pseudoscience theories. The scientific method uses logic, math, and examples to explain. Integral to hard scientific theories is the requirement to propose experiments to verify/disprove.

Dogma: a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.

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#48
In reply to #46

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 1:42 AM

Blink, nice ranting, loved it. Good comments as usual amigo.

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#49
In reply to #38

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 2:49 AM

What do you think of every man , father or male authority figure in everything from TV shows like Family Guy , The Simpsons , Cheerios TV adverts , and even to Disneys The Little Mermaid being made out to look like ineffectual , impotent , useless non entities ? Do you think this characterisation of adult males is any coincidence ? Its supposed to funny , I guess , but is it really ? If it isnt funny then what is it ? Whats the message ?

"Down with Dad?"

Now take a long look at how the courts view fathers rights and the role of fathers in families. Most divorce courts seem to regard the father as a necessary evil and little more than a meal ticket. The courts decry fathers limited involvement in their families and then turn right around and tell a divorced father he can see his kids only four days a month. Their concern , they say , is whatever "is in the best interests of the child." Four days a month is standard in most states. I suppose anything more would not be "in the best interests of the child?" The courts , in so doing , betray their opinion of fathers in no uncertain term . And the media backs them every inch of the way .

"Down with Dad."

As the father goes , so goes the family .

As the family goes , so goes the nation .

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#56
In reply to #49

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 4:12 PM

We are the best, the sharpest tacks in the box. Our opinion is irrefutable. We are always right.

Than, why are there two negative marks on the above posting? It is a fellow engineer's opinion, which must be respected. The posting had no offensive statements in it, nor immoral. If the two brave anonymous "marksmen" were of a contrary opinion, shouldn't they just post their arguments?

r...r...r..

What were we talking about?

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#59
In reply to #56

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 7:21 PM

indel asked: "why are there two negative marks on the above posting?"

I agree that they are short sighted. While the response may not directly address the question posed by this string, it does speak to how the family unit does effect the way people behave in later life. Having been through a divorce I can understand his frustration. It's unfortunate others did not look beneath the language to the obvious underlying context.

Thanks for coming to his defense

L.J.

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#65
In reply to #56

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/07/2010 12:53 AM

Although I think that the guest post to which you refer is as much on topic as most of my rant (and I voted it so) someone briefly cruising through may not have endured the length of my rant, and therefore would not see the guest post as answering the question "What can we do to curb the spread of pseudoscience?" Although I may think that my own post is on topic in many respects (because in my own mind it slowly develops a case) there are many parts of it that could reasonably be called off topic, I think (as well as wordy, rambling, potentially offensive, etc.) The same people who would consider his post off-topic might have voted mine off-topic as well (perhaps even if they agreed with the general drift of the post, but just didn't think that it had much to do with the thread topic).

The off topic vote (which I use fairly often for my own posts, such as this one) does not fit too well, ( I guess) if the discussion is more philosophical than directly related to nuts and bolts engineering or science, and in which a definite answer can be given. In those discussions, it is intended to allow a reader who wants to see "the answer" to avoid the sidetracks which sometimes develop. (Some of the side tracks are very interesting -- more so than the main thread, at times.)

One way in which the current system does not work well, perhaps, is that a "good answer" vote cancels an "off-topic" vote, but "good answer" is not the antonym to "off-topic".

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#67
In reply to #65

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/07/2010 9:05 AM

After I posted above, I gave to myself the same arguments, related to the limits of the area covered by an initial posting. And I came to an answer close to yours.

Now, talking about the same boundaries, not too few discussions, here, are limited strictly to the subject in the title. Just take a look at:

http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/49970/Do-You-Dress-Left-or-Right

and note how some agendas (circumcision advocates) are shown in plain site, far from the answers to an Innocent question.

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#68
In reply to #65

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/07/2010 1:41 PM

this just a mistake in post.

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#71
In reply to #56

Re: why are there two negative marks

02/07/2010 4:25 PM

my dear indel,
peace be with you.
Rating dialog box is not a [ thumbs down ]/[ thumbs up ] vote. We don't get to disagree there.
It is an [ off topic ] [ agree ] [ exit/cancel ] dialog box.
We hope to see all off-topic subjects in new Forum Threads. :)

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#73
In reply to #71

Re: why are there two negative marks

02/07/2010 5:00 PM

I love you, too, avid zero g

You can see that I did "mea culpa' (sort of) in post #68. In the same post I was mentioning the "drift" from the subject outlined in the title.

I am sure that you are a man of your convictions and you are living by them. So, I am going to monitor ALL your comments and, if the subject is "off the rail", I will scream "fault".

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#64
In reply to #49

Re: Curbing the Spread of Pseudoscience

02/06/2010 11:56 PM

Do you think this characterisation of adult males is any coincidence ? Its supposed to funny , I guess , but is it really ? If it isnt funny then what is it ? Whats the message ?

Personally I find these shows funny, and have found funny many of the sitcoms all the way back to Ralph Kramden in the honeymooners. I cannot think of a sitcom that portrays a woman as the bumbler and the man as highly-competent. But we laugh, because we see in the men our own foibles and insecurities. I think that in my many years I have done numerous silly things that could have been done by Homer, Ralph Kramden, or Tim the Tool Guy. All these sitcoms have been kind to men, because we come away loving these guy, just as their wives continue to love them. They are human. I can't say that I have ever felt a "down with dad" tone to sitcoms.

In dramas (Dr Kildare, Perry Mason, The Fugitive) men have been portrayed as highly competent, and women used to be in mainly subservient, secondary, supportive roles. I come from a family in which my mother was a president of NOW and my grandmother worked with Susan B Anthony, so these things were brought to my attention, frequently. Now it seems that the number of leading roles by women vs men is pretty equal.

Having gone through a divorce 20 years ago, I can certainly understand where you are coming from. The legal system can be grossly unfair.

The Cheerios commercials drive me nuts.

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