Soul-searching scientists struggle to get message across

April 29, 2017 by Mariëtte Le Roux
A trend has grown to challenge tenets that enjoy overwhelming expert consensus, including global warming

"We mortals do not understand you." That's the heartfelt cry from former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, pleading with scientists to use everyday language to help counter growing public mistrust.

Figueres was giving one explanation of why scientists are struggling to get their message across to a sceptical public at a major conference in Vienna this week.

Delegates made time for soul-searching at the meeting in the Austrian capital, conceding that they bear part of the blame for alienating some people.

Just days after a historic March for Science in Washington, the experts owned up to failures including remoteness and condescension—and operating in an "echo chamber of likeminded people".

"I think it's the conceitedness, in a way," said Heike Langenberg, chief editor of the journal Nature Geoscience.

"The problem is that scientists have not spoken at an even level with people who are out there," she told AFP on the sidelines of a European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting of more than 14,000 experts in 22 fields.

"They have tended to give long speeches and not listen.... I think they have underestimated intelligence and overestimated knowledge."

This has contributed to an erosion of support for since a high point in the 1960s when humans planted a flag on the Moon.

Led by the United States, a trend has grown since then to challenge certain basic tenets that enjoy overwhelming expert consensus—the benefits of childhood vaccination, evidence for species evolution, and the perils of global warming.

One prominent doubter, Donald Trump, is now in the White House. He has described climate change as a hoax and linked childhood vaccines to autism.

Since taking office, Trump has moved to curb science spending and gag government researchers.

A 2012 study in the American Sociological Review reported a dramatic loss of scientific faith among US conservatives, from nearly 50 percent who reported a "great deal" of trust in 1974 to only 35 percent four decades later.

People attend the March for Science in Vienna on April 22, 2017

Liberal views have consistently hovered around the 50-percent mark.

Jargon

The "politicisation" of science is a major part of the problem, conference delegates said.

Not only do politicians cherrypick convenient findings, so creating the impression that research is partisan, but also some scientists have trespassed into what Langenberg described as the "public bazaar of opinions".

Advancing any view or judgement is a no-no in the evidence-based research sphere, founded on the cardinal acceptance that nothing is ever certain.

The EGU meeting, which gathers annually to scrutinise the latest research in Earth and space science, this year atypically held an introspective debate entitled "Make facts great again: how can scientists stand up for science?"

The motivation was a clear trend of "growing distrust of experts (and) rejection of inconvenient facts," said EGU president Jonathan Bamber, a glaciologist.

Communicating science effectively has never been more important, said delegates.

Diplomat Figueres made a plea on behalf of policy-makers.

"We are the ones who need to understand and take the implications of what you do and try to translate it into decisions, into policies," she said. "And if we don't understand there's nothing we can do about it."

Unlike the awe-inspiring Moon quest, many of today's science problems tackle complex, controversial and unpleasant themes that touch on humanity's very survival.

US President Donald Trump has expressed concerns that childhood vaccinations could be linked to autism

Challenging power

Some research fields threaten major economic interests—for example the coal and oil industries' vulnerability to climate science showing a need to curb fossil fuel use, or that of soft drink manufacturers to health warnings about sugar.

"There's huge economic interest at risk," said Christine McEntee, executive director of the American Geophysical Union.

This can cause vested interests to "speak out and skew the science. That has eroded trust."

Another contributor is a modern media focus on entertaining narrative.

"You can't beat narratives with facts," lamented Langenberg.

"Humans like stories, they tell stories, they listen to stories and they are influenced by stories, and unfortunately whether these stories are factual doesn't really matter all that much," she said.

"Many of us think that facts speak for themselves, but I think that is a misconception. Facts actually need trust and that is something we need to gain."

The answer?

Scientists have to go back to basics— thorough vetting and peer review to limit research mistakes and fraud, and resisting the temptation to exaggerate findings in a quest for prestige or funding.

"It's important for the science community to be responsible in the way they communicate the science, so as not to sensationalise their own findings and not to try and just go for a headline rather than a much more... sober and factual presentation of findings, the EGU's Bamber told AFP.

"What we can do, and should do, is keep emphasising what science can't do and can do," added Langenberg.

"We very rarely can provide complete and final truth, that's important to stress"—so that people are not left frustrated by the process.

"Science is search, and the search will go on."

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rderkis
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 29, 2017
Quote Article "Scientists have to go back to basics— thorough vetting and peer review to limit research mistakes and fraud, and resisting the temptation to exaggerate findings in a quest for prestige or funding."

Plus science needs to get out of politics.
Any scientist worth his salt knows we on the verge of developing fusion. which will put an end to fossil fuels. Which will mean a slow end to global warming.
Any scientist worth his salt knows we on the verge of developing materials that are friendly to the environment. Thus ending the need for such a expansive EPA.
Gigel
not rated yet Apr 29, 2017
we on the verge of developing materials that are friendly to the environment

Already done. White LEDs are bringing energy consumption down in buildings.
Forestgnome
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 29, 2017
When scientists stop making their predictions the focal point and state the facts, they'll earn trust. Nobody disputes the facts when a weatherman states the current temperature, but when they make predictions the trust level is below 100%.
Forestgnome
3 / 5 (2) Apr 29, 2017
"Any scientist worth his salt knows we on the verge of developing fusion. which will put an end to fossil fuels."

Great example!
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (7) Apr 29, 2017
Among other things, it's not necessarily the complexity of "scientific" statements that makes many skeptical of "science". It's the failure of "science" to actually solve many problems. It's a haughty attitude, saying people won't understand. Among other things, such things as inoculation was pioneered by Eastern European peasant women. None of them discuss matters from UFO's to the "moon landing" to the acceptance of God with anything less than the attitude that the people are here only to believe what they're told to believe. There was no general outcry that there was no infrastructure in Iraq to support mass production of banned weapons systems. And the approach to vaccines that "science" shows is that of the swindler trying to force a lie on those who know better. And many if not most promoting climate change also refuse to admit the sex deviances are manifestations of deep mental imbalance.
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (8) Apr 29, 2017
Among other things, too, despite what Gigel says, LED bulbs have strange spectra. Their spectra resemble two separate black body spectra at two separate wavelengths. But, for many, this may have a disconcerting effect. They won't know what to make of it and will question themselves. And, frankly, it's the "scientists" who are claiming incandescent bulbs damaged the environment and ordering people to believe it. If LED bulbs reduce a "carbon footprint", who says big business won't fill it and demand more sacrifices from the people? And, face it, "science' refuses to accept that disagreement and problems with climate change models is that they depend on "fossil fuels" being the cause, when, in fact, climate change is caused by chemtrails.
CarbonSack
4 / 5 (4) Apr 29, 2017
Thus ending the need for such a expansive EPA.


The EPA and other such agencies are necessary in order to ensure that true costs are accounted for in the Free Market economy. Ignoring pollution as a capital cost is like me robbing someone's house and selling their stuff on eBay at discount - the police exist to ensure that I can't take such an unfair capital discount in my business practice.
aksdad
1 / 5 (8) Apr 29, 2017
When scientists stop making their predictions the focal point and state the facts, they'll earn trust.

And state the facts in context. For example, "this may be the hottest year in the measured record, but our measuring techniques and statistical analysis methods leave some significant room for error so we're not really sure if it's the hottest year and the paleoclimate record shows earth warms and cools naturally over cycles of a few years, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of years and we're not sure where we are in those cycles. Carbon dioxide could certainly contribute to warming but our models are immature and it's difficult to say with any accuracy how much human carbon dioxide emissions are impacting the environment and if that impact is negative or positive." Then the best caveat of all, the one that true scientists invoke: "further study is suggested".
PTTG
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 29, 2017
Carbon dioxide could certainly contribute to warming but our models are immature and it's difficult to say with any accuracy how much human carbon dioxide emissions are impacting the environment and if that impact is negative or positive..


This solipsism is neither productive nor useful. You don't expect your doctor to say "well, some evidence suggests that having HIV leads to AIDS, but let's not be hasty and assume that it's the case."

The evidence that global warming is caused by human-produced CO2 is comparable to the evidence that evolution is real. How much more do you need to believe that human actions are causing the observed warming? What would convince you? What is lacking that makes you think it's not relevant to making policy?
Da Schneib
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 29, 2017
Capitalism and politics have a love-hate relationship with science. In fact, socialism does too.

Religionism isn't so nuanced; it hates science all the time.

The real key to the situation is education, and until most people are educated properly, every capitalist, socialist, politician of whatever stripe, and religionist will strive to prevent education, and will be free to abuse science however they please.

The Internet can help, but basic critical thinking skills are necessary to use it well to educate oneself, and these are the exact skills capitalists, socialists, politicians, and religionists oppose teaching everyone in school. For good reason; they fertilize their fields to ensure they can persuade with illogic and lies. This is the age of the demagogue. Until people can descry demagogues we will continue to be infested by them.

Russia is using all the tools of a nuclear state to promote demagoguery in the West. They do not teach critical thinking.
[contd]
Da Schneib
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 29, 2017
[contd]
China is grappling with the results of education in critical thinking in their own society; it will be interesting to see how they deal with this.

India still eschews early training in critical thinking. So does Pakistan. Both are being embarrassed by the results.

Europe has done better, but still has a long way to go; not as far as the US, though.

Australia has done fairly well, but still allows demagogues (and I don't mean the government does it, I mean the people allow it).

In a few hundred years, early education in critical thinking will be recognized as a human right. There will still be those who oppose it, but eventually the proles will recognize that choice is fundamental, and that free choice depends upon critical thinking. The scientists hold the key but do not yet realize how to use it.

I long for the day.
Da Schneib
4.4 / 5 (7) Apr 29, 2017
Carbon dioxide could certainly contribute to warming but our models are immature and it's difficult to say with any accuracy how much human carbon dioxide emissions are impacting the environment and if that impact is negative or positive..


This solipsism is neither productive nor useful. You don't expect your doctor to say "well, some evidence suggests that having HIV leads to AIDS, but let's not be hasty and assume that it's the case."
"The models are immature" is FUD. It's good to see that there are people who can see and reject demagoguery. I wish there were more like you, @PTTG. The question, "What would convince you" is a powerful one, and I do not expect you will receive an answer, or if you do, that it will be reasonable.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.4 / 5 (8) Apr 29, 2017
Typical religionist doublethink:
Among other things, it's not necessarily the complexity of "scientific" statements that makes many skeptical of "science". It's the failure of "science" to actually solve many problems. It's a haughty attitude, saying people won't understand
IOW science isnt real because it is often too complex for the average godlover to understand. And god wouldnt insult them in such a manner.
such things as inoculation was pioneered by Eastern European peasant women
??? And if she was an ardent believer she would have known that sickness is caused by sin and evil spirits, and that alternatives to penance and prayer are heresy.
None of them discuss matters from UFO's to the "moon landing" to the acceptance of God with anything less than the attitude that the people are here only to believe what they're told to believe
Uh - you guys are here to believe what the book tells you to believe.

Thats like triplethink I think.
cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.5 / 5 (8) Apr 29, 2017
the approach to vaccines that "science" shows is that of the swindler trying to force a lie on those who know better
-So you do believe that prayer cures polio then? Of course.
And many if not most promoting climate change also refuse to admit the sex deviances are manifestations of deep mental imbalance
-when in truth the fact is, that you guys vilify non-procreative sex because it doesnt grow the flock fast enough to overwhelm the godders down the street who are trying to do the same to you.

The gravest sins in your books are the ones that free women from bearing children until it kills them. Mother teresa knew this very well. She fed off the misery resulting from overgrowth.

The difference between xian and moslem charities - moslems seek to support families which have grown too large to support themselves... xian charities capitalize on the pain and suffering their forced reproduction causes.

"Dont waste charity on unbelievers" -sirach
RealityCheck
3.5 / 5 (8) Apr 29, 2017
@julianpenrod.
no infrastructure in Iraq to support mass production of banned weapons
That was not 'science failure', but 'political failure'. Foreign scientists not privy to 'top secrets' in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, so scientists had no data to make conclusions. The situation globally was one of uncertainty because Saddam DID (just as Iran, North Korea still DO) kept many secrets from its own people/global community. The US et al merely exploited said secrecy/uncertainty.
the approach to vaccines that "science" shows is that of the swindler.
Did any of your predecessors die of any previously uncontrollable contagious diseases that later were largely controlled by vaccines, julian? Also, please read the history of how Cowpox gave milkmaids immunity to Smallpox!
the sex deviances are manifestations of deep mental imbalance.
Do you also rant against fish who 'change sex' due to gestation, hormonal, genetic and environmental variables, jp?

Ok? Rethinkitall, jp. :)
RealityCheck
3 / 5 (6) Apr 29, 2017
@julianpenrod.
"science' refuses to accept that disagreement and problems with climate change models
I've long had "disagreement with climate change models" of the past. But recent models have taken on board many of the variables I long pointed out were being missed by earlier naive/simplistic models (also the case re astronomical/cosmological etc models until more recently, but that's another story).

Most exasperatingly, everyone seemed to miss the crucial insight:

Whatever the 'model', whatever the 'inputs', a planet's Atmosphere (its constituents/proportionate makeup etc parameters) ALWAYS produce the NET 'energy balance applicable in each case.

I often remind all to consider planets WITHOUT atmospheres; Mercury especially has CRYOGENICALLY' COLD 'nightside' despite OVERWHELMING heat inputs; because NO atmosphere to 'lag' against heat loss to space IMMEDIATELY.

So, jp, even if "chemtrails" an 'input', Earth's NET energy balance affected by CO2 component of atmos!
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (4) Apr 29, 2017
Unsurprising that TheGhostofOtto1923 would embrace malignant machinations. Among them, "judging" what I said by deliberate misrepresentations of it.
I spoke of "science" not really solving anything and "scientists" pretending to be better than everyone else. The GhostofOtto1923 simply says they are better, without proving that what they say is even true!
Yes, illness and injuries are the result of evil in the individual, but, as I pointed out, God knows many would not be able to concentrate on improving themselves if they were sick, so He allows them alternatives to get well.
Note that TheGhostofOtto1923's "proof" that "scientists" don't demand belief in what they say without validation is to say that religionists feel they should believe the Bible without proof.
TheGhostofOtto1923's reaction is solely one defined by hate and viciousness.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.5 / 5 (8) Apr 30, 2017
I spoke of "science" not really solving anything and "scientists" pretending to be better than everyone else
And I spoke of believers pretending to be better than everyone else because only they can be good yes? This makes them bigots of the worst sort.
Yes, illness and injuries are the result of evil in the individual
haha of course they are. But how do you explain that believers get sick and injured, and cured and fixed, as often as heathens? Statistics are the devils work. God warned david not to take that census didnt he?
TheGhostofOtto1923's reaction is solely one defined by hate and viciousness
You bet. I hate the lies and ignorance and bigotry of the typical believer. And I know what you all would do if you ever got the power and control you want.

The historical record is also the devils work. You'd fix that as well if you had the chance. You try all the time.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (7) Apr 30, 2017
Oh hey before I forget - happy walpurgisnacht. Go burn a bush or a fatted calf or something.

But pagans are only more people praying to cartoon characters yes? Like hindus and mormonites you would agree with that im sure.

At any rate jesus aint comin back until theyre all converted or extirpated.

Its in the book.
Uncle Ira
5 / 5 (3) Apr 30, 2017
@ Otto-Skippy. How you are? I am good, non problems.

I think our old friend "cat-eyed/Richie-the-black-psychiatrist/pirouetting/obama-sock-fan" is back. Have you seen him yet?

https://phys.org/...ies.html

Enjoy Cher.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 30, 2017
@ Otto-Skippy. How you are? I am good, non problems.

I think our old friend "cat-eyed/Richie-the-black-psychiatrist/pirouetting/obama-sock-fan" is back. Have you seen him yet?

https://phys.org/...ies.html

Enjoy Cher.
Not sure but this seems to be a different kind of animal. Too many big words and a whole lotta zippy drugs.

Could be wrong.
randomcyborg
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 30, 2017
Over and over, I have been asked, "Can you explain that in a simpler way?"

Unfortunately, I can't — nobody can.

The root of this problem is scientific jargon, which involves adding meanings to common words — involved, complex meanings — so that a scientist in a particular field can converse with another scientist in that field without having to spend eight hours saying, "Take a look at this picture of a bunch of circles with numbers in them, linked together by lines with symbols on them. I can use this to show that messages sent over a bunch of wires that connect computers to each other won't get ignored by multiplying the numbers in the circles by increasing powers, which is nothing more than the number of times a number is multiplied by itself, of imaginary numbers which we need so that numbers less than zero can have square roots...", when I can say, "I'm going to find the z-transform of packet arrivals on the Internet."

Jargon is a problem I don't know how to fix.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (7) Apr 30, 2017
Scientists don't make up jargon for jargon's sake. Sometimes there are just no words to express the concepts needed (spacetime, quarks, whatever...). Science throws up stuff that is new. And it is the nature of the new that it hasn't been described before in words.

Not everything can be described by analogy. There is just no analogy for what a strange quark is. Or a quantum waveform. Just look at what happens when they try by going for wave/particle duality. People picture waves. Or particles. And both views are so wrong that it takes more work to disentangle the false preconceptions these words bring with them than it would to teach a new word/concept.

People expect that using simple words will make scientific concepts easy. Unfortunately it isn't the words that are hard. Science is hard. It's done by smart people at the very limits of their capacity. This does mean many will not be able to understand it.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Apr 30, 2017
When scientists stop making their predictions the focal point and state the facts, they'll earn trust.

Science is about being able to make predictions. Anything else is just accounting.

Nobody disputes the facts when a weatherman states the current temperature

That's just reporting a measurement.

when they make predictions the trust level is below 100%.

And that is why meteorologist give a confidence value to their forecasts ("x% chance of rain"). And you will see similar expressions of confidence (p values, sigma levels of confidence, etc) in every scientific paper in every field.
(Not seeing it is an indication that you're dealing with a crank paper)

Plus science needs to get out of politics.

I'd argue that in this time - when the only ones sticking to facts/truth are scientists - scientists need to get into politics more than ever before. Politics needs truth not lies ('alternative facts' are lies. THAT is jargon)
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (4) Apr 30, 2017
Scientists can only validate their theories by using them to make predictions and then checking if they're correct. When scientists stop making predictions they'll stop being scientists.

It's this sort of muddy thinking that makes it clear that the people who whine about science are the problem.
randomcyborg
4 / 5 (4) Apr 30, 2017
Perhaps another part of the communications problem between scientists and "mortals" is the difference between a hypothesis and a belief, especially when scientists use those two words interchangeably. When a scientist uses either of those words in a professional context, what is meant is "hypothesis" — something that can be (and will be) tested, and thrown out or modified if the tests indicate the hypothesis is incorrect. When a non-scientist uses those two words interchangeably, what is meant is "belief" — something accepted as truth without it being tested.

Scientists spend most of their time around scientists, and don't realize (they've never before needed to realize) that the words, phrases, idioms, and jargon — all of which are absolutely necessary if scientists are to communicate with each other in their respective fields — mean one thing to a scientist, and quite another to a "mortal non-scientist".

Every field has jargon — ever talk to a carpenter?
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2017
So how come people trust carpenters but not scientists? And in my experience, with a hell of a lot less reason, considering the kludges I've found in my houses that had to be fixed.
randomcyborg
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 30, 2017
That is a question I cannot answer, but I have a hypothesis.

Maybe people think carpenters (and members of other trades) are "ordinary people", and that anyone can become one, but it takes as long to become a master carpenter as it does to earn a doctorate and become a scientist, and there is just as much to learn.

People underestimate those who are masters of the various trades.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2017
Yep, and they underestimate scientists too.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
@randomcyborg
but I have a hypothesis...
you're forgetting to add in some things: the carpenter produces a physical object that can be graded by a layman (though perhaps not as accurately as some believe)

it doesn't always require a working knowledge just to appreciate the beauty of the object produced

this is a key difference, and a point of contention

people are typically lazy, so if it can't be broken down to a small easily digested blurb, then it's too hard to work at to decipher the "jargon" etc...

then there is the the fact that most "science" is not something that is comprehensible due to the heavy math or lack of application (or knowledge thereof)

for some that is abstract thought, regardless of the physical applications of the science, which is why so many people trust medicine more than, say, astrophysicists or CERN
randomcyborg
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
It's not necessarily the beauty of an object; it's also its utility. A house may be ugly, but it still keeps the rain off, and the wind out. People see the immediate benefit of a house, but they have trouble internalizing the benefit of reduced carbon emissions. Three hot summers in a row is nothing more than three hot summers in a row if you lack the education and training to understand why there were three hot summers in a row.

There is also the fact that building firms can construct the largest building in the world in under a decade, and it's immediately usable; a scientist may spend an entire career on a single line of research, and the knowledge produced may have no benefit for another three to five decades. The long view can be daunting.

That, however, hasn't always been the case. In medieval Europe, for example, it took more than an average lifetime to construct some of the larger cathedrals. People will take the long view if they believe there's a good reason.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
And thus we come back around to education. If one doesn't understand the objective, one dismisses it as irrelevant, and if we've learned anything it should be that science is not irrelevant.
randomcyborg
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
How do go about getting more people scientifically literate so they meet us halfway? We cannot make people learn, so how do we entice them to learn? They no longer trust us. If we put what we do completely in so-called "laymen's terms", it makes less sense to them than do our jargon-filled discussions among ourselves. This is now in a positive feedback loop, which a very negative situation (sorry — I couldn't resist) (actually, I'm not the least bit sorry).

If society's distrust of science and scientists is increase only logarithmically, all of us — scientists and "mortals" — can turn it around. If distrust of is increasing at a rate greater than linear, it may take some extent of societal collapse to stop it. I sure as hell hope not. And scientists are not the sole cause of the problem; society must meet us halfway.

Not only is science not irrelevant, its importance is increasing daily.
randomcyborg
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
rderkis: "Any scientist worth his salt knows we [are] on the verge of developing fusion."

Any scientist worth his salt does not know we are on the verge of developing controlled fusion. We hope we're on the verge of developing controlled fusion.

Any scientist who "knows" we're on the verge of developing controlled fusion is not worth his salt, and is no scientist.

Science does not and cannot predict the future. Science predicts the consequences of specific actions.
Uncle Ira
5 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
How do go about getting more people scientifically literate so they meet us halfway?
Lot of educators and social "scientists" have been working on that for ages Cher. And a lot of them have been coming up with what they think are sure-fire answers.

And scientists are not the sole cause of the problem; society must meet us halfway.
Maybe you think scientists are somehow not part of society. Us-them tribalism will usually be a not-starter Cher.

That's what the social "scientists" always forget in their "theorizing" and sure-fired solutions. If you want people to think like you do, you got to show them why your tribe is the one they want to be in. Arguing is not enough, philosophers have been doing that for 3000 years without coming to an agreement.

But if you real complaint is just dealing with the trolls on the interweb, then it's not a question of science, it's just being better than they are at making them look foolish.
randomcyborg
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
Captain Stumpy, I disagree that people are typically lazy. Over more than two decades of teaching at the undergraduate level on up, I remember having two lazy students out of about 2500. Both were in my majors' courses (mathematics and computer science). I had no lazy non-majors.

I don't think it's laziness.

The following is, I think, tangentially relevant: of my top five students, three were women (two in computer science, the other in mathematics).

I don't think the problem is laziness; I think it's culture.
randomcyborg
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
Uncle Ira, you inferred something I did not imply.

Scientists are most definitely part of society. We (scientists) can't fix this problem on our own, but I'm trying to think about and discuss all that scientists can do to communicate with the rest of society.

Scientists have a sub-culture within society, as does every other field. We can't change the rest of society, but we can change. I just don't know how to go about it, nor all of what we need to do.
randomcyborg
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
Uncle Ira, I'm not complaining. I'm discussing, and I'm listening.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
@randomcyborg
I disagree that people are typically lazy
you misunderstand - people, as a whole, walk the path of least resistance
this isn't a matter of debate, but rather one of observation
I remember having two lazy students
but that is a select group of the population not indicative of the whole
for instance - how many people go to college?
now, out of those who make the effort, how many take STEM courses?
see my point?
I don't think it's laziness
you can't compare apples to firetrucks simply because some are similar coloured... in this case, think psychology: even when dealing with complex problems, people tend to have similar shortcuts (or biases)

otherwise you would never see similar patterns in the set-up of grocery stores

understand now?

it aint about an individual ... it's about people as a whole
and as a whole they're "disinclined to work" - otherwise everyone would be a college grad (on Mars, to boot)
http://www.dictio...wse/lazy
Uncle Ira
5 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
@ random-Skippy,
Uncle Ira, I'm not complaining. I'm discussing, and I'm listening.


I did not say you were complaining. I just said you were beating a dead mule that the social "scientists" and philosophers have killed already a ziptillion times and after 3000 years still are not any closer to a "solution" than they were when they started.

Are you one of those social "scientist" or philosopher types? This makes it sound like you are,,,
And scientists are not the sole cause of the problem; society must meet us halfway.
,,,, that is framing the discussion in tribal terms, us & them.

You say you have the distress about how to get "them" "literate" (your word) enough to understand "us". That is usually a non-starter for getting someone on board. If you got something good enough to spread around, somebody will want it, work on them. You can't argue people into wanting to be like you. The social "scientists" been trying that forever.

Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
@randomcyborg cont'd
I don't think the problem is laziness; I think it's culture
sort of

it's more like Human Nature
(See: Japan, China)
Scientists have a sub-culture within society, as does every other field. We can't change the rest of society, but we can change
this was to Ira, but i want to add my 2cents

change happens within, always - be it cultural change or personal, it is still a choice and it takes effort

change can happen in a sub-group of a culture and spread like wildfire for various and numerous reasons

example: the military and the changes WRT sexism, racism, prejudice
randomcyborg
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
Cap'n, Unc, it's not us against them — it's us against us; two segments of one society almost at war with each other.

For twenty years, I had a house that was six-tenths of a mile down a private dirt road. My next door neighbor had a tenth grade education (I've mentioned my level of education elsewhere). We were extremely good friends. Sometimes he would ask about math, computers, and psychology; sometimes I would ask how to stop a leak in my roof. Mostly we just talked. Sometimes we would stargaze; other times we'd jump in his truck and drive around in (yes, in) the lake (both our houses bordered the lake) just to see how deep we could get before we had to call Joey to pull us out. I say this to show that I like all kinds of people, and they like me. I'm a redneck and a brain from day one (still am).

I said "scientifically literate" — that kind of phrasing is acceptable.

The science subculture must change, as must the non-science subculture.

It takes two to stop a war.
Uncle Ira
5 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
@ random-Skippy. Maybe somebody else will come along who can fool around with you about this. For me it not a hot-button or a cold-button issue.

The way I see it is the most unhappiest peoples in the world are the ones who take what they think too serious and like nit-pick and wrestle with what peoples do, say and think.

Humans are here while we are here, we were not always here, and we won't always be here no matter what we do. Life is like that. The universe did what it does now before we got here, and it will keep doing it some more a long time after we are gone.

Physics and chemistry are dependable. Take any proton and replace it with any other proton, and nothing will change. That is science.

Sociology, psychology, politics and economics are not dependable, never have been. They are not science. Because no matter which human you pick to replace another everything changes. And there are 7 billions of us in the mix (but there won't be in the next hundred years.)
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) May 01, 2017
How do go about getting more people scientifically literate so they meet us halfway? We cannot make people learn, so how do we entice them to learn?
One would have thought that economics would do it, but while it seems to have penetrated the minds of some of those offered the opportunity that in order to do well they will need to be educated, many of them simply don't seem to have absorbed the concept. How much of this is due to intelligence, how much to gumption, and how much to various other factors like lackluster parental guidance, religion, or simple despair, is difficult to calibrate.

Then there's simple lack of opportunity, even in one of the supposedly most advanced cultures on the planet. And that's a crying shame because we need those people because of the number that reject education due to religion or lack the gumption needed to pursue an education.
[contd]
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) May 01, 2017
[contd]
They no longer trust us. If we put what we do completely in so-called "laymen's terms", it makes less sense to them than do our jargon-filled discussions among ourselves. This is now in a positive feedback loop, which a very negative situation (sorry — I couldn't resist) (actually, I'm not the least bit sorry).
Science is *hard*. Especially now that the areas we're probing so often deny so-called "common sense." They're counter-intuitive. It's hard, and it's only gonna get harder.

There are no easy answers here. There is only one way to understand science, and that is to learn it, and it takes a long time and a lot of effort, and that's if you even have the stuff to learn it in the first place.

Deconstructionist philosophy has done a lot of damage, too. It gives instant cred to every conspiracy theory.
[contd]
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) May 01, 2017
[contd]
I don't think it's any one thing; I think it's a whole bunch of little things that all have to be straightened out before we can fix this. And it's too depressing to make a list of them.

If society's distrust of science and scientists is increase only logarithmically, all of us — scientists and "mortals" — can turn it around. If distrust of is increasing at a rate greater than linear, it may take some extent of societal collapse to stop it. I sure as hell hope not. And scientists are not the sole cause of the problem; society must meet us halfway.
At this point, it looks to me like a resounding catastrophe and all the scientists saying "We told you so" over and over for about a hundred years is what it will take. And lots of neat new toys. It looks like that's just where we're going, too.

Sometimes it's the only way they learn.
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) May 02, 2017
@randomcyborg
It takes two to stop a war
but... it's not a war
it's a choice

that is the keyword: choice

Science is hard - if you don't put in the work you end up walking around advocating for things like the electric universe cult or you don't comprehend the need for nuclear energy

regardless of the jargon or anything else, it still boils down to a choice to either put in the time and effort or not

people typically only put in the mandatory cursory effort (path of least resistance, AKA - lazy) in grade school

why?
it's easier to let someone else do it because those "others" want to work at it

that is not to say that there are some who just "don't get it"... there are always those in society and they flock to the easiest answers who fit their bias (or delusions - see deniers, fundamentalist religion believers etc )

& Ira makes great points about psychology, sociology (etc) too

sometimes you just have to give it time

let society reap what they sow

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