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Where would we be without scientists?

category: general [glöplog]
No, Average Joe won't always be able to understand the implications of a given idea. In fact he'll quite often get it dead wrong. He quite clearly doesn't understand the need to study the complex dynamics of a rope/string/wire getting itself tangled up, for example.
added on the 2007-10-08 15:11:25 by doomdoom doomdoom
here is an idea, lets terribly tangle shane with knots at the next demoparty and throw him into a lizard pit and see if he is able to make his escape by human bonding with the lizards or not. oh right i forgot he doesnt attend demoparties.
added on the 2007-10-08 15:19:01 by psenough psenough
Shane: without scientist, you would not be able to transform from a faggot into a wolf then into a tiger then intro a turtle then into a ballon ;)
added on the 2007-10-08 15:20:13 by keops keops
maybe I need a scientist to correct my typos btw :)
added on the 2007-10-08 15:21:07 by keops keops
don't worry, i can science some fiction if necessary!

also:
http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/regular_expressions.png
added on the 2007-10-08 17:53:05 by ryg ryg
Commodore: hehe you caught my line of thinking with the image spot on ;)

alienus : thanks for the rant, it is appreciated.

Science is a great tool, but it turns into an infallible religion with its own established dogmas it become just as troublesome as any religion. Many of the great philosophers, matematicians and inventors of things through the ages has been the 'average joe', that then later went on to become academic figures. Universties does not breed scientists, its fertilise those that allready are. A phd only means that you have learned a canon, and showed the ability to reproduce the facts that you have been taught at an examination.

Command Cyborg:

The Economic Laws of Scientific Research, by Terence Kealey, Palgrave Macmillan; ISBN: 0312173067; (May 1997)

Government funding of scientific research is a massive waste of money. Technological progress is not attributable to science. Privately-funded and hobby scientists have been the most productive. Sound preposterous? Kealey is a Cambridge University biochemist who explodes widespread myths about the relationships of science, technology, and economics by refuting rationalistic arguments of economists and politicians with historical and economic data.

He begins with the "linear model" of Francis Bacon, that government-funded science drives technology, by showing historically that the technological advancements of skilled, uneducated workers in England (such as Newcomen, who invented the steam engine) or the western European barbarians (who invented the saddle and domesticated the horse for farm use) drove technical advancement that led to scientific investigation. Basic science today contributes about 10 % to new technology; 90 % is driven by existing technology, just as old science largely drives new science.

Woven into his account is a summary of the history and development of both science and technology. He shows that technology came first in Western development, often from uneducated inventors like Newcomen. Dennis Papin, the leading gas scientist during the Industrial Revolution, "used to explain that he was prompted into studying vacuum steam engines because of Newcomen's success." James Watt's improvements of Newcomen's engine were not inspired by Joseph Black's discovery of latent heat, as conventionally supposed even in Watt's day, but was denied by Watt himself, who attributed them to "old established fact" known among steam practitioners. Very often, engineers such as Torricelli or Joule turned scientist.

when people encounter a problem, if they have a little sense, they try to solve it or understand it, and that is what science is. Not just a bunch of men in white coats who 'have it all nailed down'. Scientists where 'joe shcmoe' before the phd came into their life.
added on the 2007-10-08 17:55:17 by NoahR NoahR
Maybe better off.
added on the 2007-10-08 18:21:59 by raer raer
Quote:
Basic science today contributes about 10 % to new technology; 90 % is driven by existing technology, just as old science largely drives new science


Uhmmm... that just doesn't make sense. Of course all technology is largely based on previous technology. You take what works, and then improve on it. And the input for new stuff comes in part from, what was that? Yes, science. What myth just exploded there? But anyway, science is not about overcoming problems, you got that wrong. That's technology you're talking about.

And who the fuck uses Newcomen's steam engine to argue that science doesn't contribute significantly to technological progress? It's from 1710! There really wasn't that much "science" to speak of in 1710.
added on the 2007-10-08 21:12:01 by doomdoom doomdoom
Oh yeah, and this:

Quote:
A phd only means that you have learned a canon, and showed the ability to reproduce the facts that you have been taught at an examination.


Is not only offensive but narrow-minded, stupid, ill-informed, and also wrong.
added on the 2007-10-08 21:21:03 by doomdoom doomdoom
he is building a case fuckfase, i gave you a single quote of a whole god damn book The Economic Laws of Scientific Research, by Terence Kealey, Palgrave Macmillan; ISBN: 0312173067; (May 1997)

Quote:
Is not only offensive but narrow-minded, stupid, ill-informed, and also wrong.


no it isnt. there you go
added on the 2007-10-08 21:53:59 by NoahR NoahR
Oh common, everyone has got a point and nothing is useless :P
Interesting discussion though..
added on the 2007-10-08 22:31:16 by Optimus Optimus
Have to agree with Doom here.. that's really a load of bull. But I might pick up the book just in case he has something worthwhile to say.
added on the 2007-10-08 22:51:25 by Preacher Preacher
A phd doesn't involve creating new branches of science or coming up with a universal law does it? Then it follows that a phd involves, at best, proof of understanding of current facts, through practical examination or some other means, therefore the quote
Quote:
A phd only means that you have learned a canon, and showed the ability to reproduce the facts that you have been taught at an examination.

whilst slightly belittling, is true for the most part. It gives no indication that the bearer understands the world any better than established fact enables us to do so.

Quote:
By that I mean that you don't do science with intuition alone. It's a terrible guide.

I'd hazard that intuition, and *luck* even more so than that, is a crucial factor behind most if not all of today's scientific fact. Of course, the definition of science is systematic study, but its progression is just as reliant on intuition - on ideas and theories and educated guesses - as it is on observation of physical reality.
added on the 2007-10-08 22:55:14 by alienus alienus
LoL, yeah PHD guys tend to be the average Joe who took some tests :)
added on the 2007-10-09 00:43:23 by Hatikvah Hatikvah
Erm... Don't you have to do some original research to get a PhD?
parapete: urban myth
added on the 2007-10-09 00:54:28 by psenough psenough
Quote:
A phd doesn't involve creating new branches of science or coming up with a universal law does it?


Science would have a lot of branches if that were the case. ;) But you're half-wrong. A ph.d involves making original contributions to your field. It's required. Those can be relatively "small", maybe even trivial, but they have to advance science in some way - which, if you haven't noticed, is NOT a static set of rules but a huge collection of knowledge that continually grows and changes. Newton and Einstein were arguably the brightest physicist ever, certainly the most highly regarded today, and they both won their fame by "revolutionizing" physics.

If you want to talk about science as a religion, the only religious aspect is the assumption/belief that objective truth exists (no assumptions made about what the truth is), and that formal logic is "infallible", for lack of a better word.
added on the 2007-10-09 01:28:26 by doomdoom doomdoom
In my field, getting a phd is a combo of working hard with known concepts together with some (nonzero amount of) invention. the wast majority of phd's aren't solving the Poincaré-conjecture in their phd work, but they usually expand the field in some direction. Properly guided, their work sheds light onto areas currently under investigation. Every community needs worker bees or ants. nothing wrong with that :)
added on the 2007-10-09 12:05:35 by Hyde Hyde
Put briefly, in order for a theory to be considered scientific, it needs to be testable under scrutiny. Any ideas that can fit these relatively stringent requirements are welcome to join the party. Thinking of it this way, I'd find it pretty difficult to be against this in general..

I can however imagine having a romantic view of how things were in the past before certain things had been brought to light, or perhaps holding a grudge against certain 'scientists' who look down upon others (though being experts subject to criticism and politicization by people who know next to nothing about their work, it's not hard to imagine their occasional frustration). Most of all though, I can be frustrated by inept scientists or by those who choose to do work which will maximize grant money or get them publications against what their better judgment.. but this is actually because I like to see people putting good work toward interesting problems (ie. frustration with certain scientists because I love what I consider to be good science).
added on the 2007-10-09 12:14:15 by bigcheese bigcheese
.. the main thing is though.. I don't have the expertise required to judge what is and is not good science. For that, I take the word of scientists friends. Like people with most kinds of jobs, they do sometimes lament about the politics involved in their work (grants from government, university administration, scholarships, gaming the publication system, etc.). My overall impression is that they're generally among the nicest and most honest people around.
added on the 2007-10-09 12:25:20 by bigcheese bigcheese
I got a PHD on the internet and they're cheaper than tuition fees!
When you those poor scientists on laboratory with their ridiculous glasses...maybe it comes the necessity to think about what we do in this world.
added on the 2007-10-11 00:31:07 by L.C.F. L.C.F.
A PhD does require original research, and a bit more than just rote regurgitation of facts... there's the PhD defense, after all.

In my field (astrophysics) that basically means I have a choice of four different choices of PhD...
1.) Some brilliant new insight that nobody's ever thought of before (Obviously this one is the best, but such insights are few and far between, and I call errors of small statistics on your saying they're all from loner outsiders)
2.) Doing something someone else thought of before, but was unable to do at all/as well (our university's telescopes managed to take an actual picture of the surface of Altair, which up until now was only seen as a point of light in even the most powerful telescopes)
3.) An intensive study of a single object (or a few objects)
4.) An intensive survey of a class of objects

5.) Some combination of the above.
If I were a theorist, you could add "modeling behavior" as needed in there.

As for the 'rote memorization', most of my scientific education has focused on HOW we know what we know about the universe. Yes, on some level I am learning all this stuff because it'll be on the test, and because I trust my professor isn't lying to me (if my professor, and the rest of the world, are all intentionally lying to me... well, that's a Cartesian existentialist problem for you). On the other hand, though, I'm learning these things because they're important to my field of study. Or, maybe they aren't and I'll be the first person to introduce that method into my little niche of astronomy.

I hate it when people compare science to a religion. It's not, and the only way it gets close to that is because we don't have the TIME to go back and demonstrate all of physics from first principles for every student. You could, but you'd never get anywhere. There's a recourse BEYOND dogmatic belief, though, because we have reasons why we believe everything I'm being taught, and if it turns out I don't believe them I could go back, take more data, and prove the results one way or another.

Believe (ha) me, there have been frequent cases recently where some of my classmates or I have called out the professor on results and interpretations we don't accept. In a lot of those cases, I think someone DOES need to go back and get more data if they're going to make those conclusions...

This is not to say there isn't a problem. One of the physics newsletters I subscribe to had a letter to the editor pointing out that Albert Einstein would have been ignored today, since he had no formal education, no big school behind him... So yeah, at least some of us are aware. If that results in people being more interested in quality of work than the name of the school, I'm all for it (sigh)

And there are plenty of cranks, like the guy who sent out copies of a paper he'd written to everyone, claiming to have disproved the current age of the universe estimate... by ignoring the parts of the original paper where the original researchers not only recognized and listed the 'massive errors' the man claimed, but also explained how the original researchers had dealt with them.

On the other hand, I'll admit there was Fritz Zwicky, the irritable genius who discovered dark matter, but was never accepted either due to the outrageousness of his claims or the way he pissed off everyone around him.
(Read this and you'll understand)
added on the 2007-10-11 03:10:25 by crusader crusader
I completely don't get the impression that Einstein would have been ignored today. It may be easier to get noticed when people start with the assumption your work is of a higher standard because it originated from a high-standards university, that's a sort of filtering mechanism that actually helps to speed up progress, but I've never heard of the university where you can't just walk up to a professor and discuss your theories. And if, as in Einstein's case, you make a lot of sense, you're very unlikely to be ignored.

I think sci-fi has bred a few misconceptions in that regard, with the stereotypical independent researcher whose ideas about "evolutionary leaps" giving people superpowers, or aliens, or volcanos about to erupt under New York, or whatever, are disregarded because of reputation or credentials.
added on the 2007-10-11 12:30:24 by doomdoom doomdoom
without scientists, we wouldnt be playing PORTAL! right now.
and pirates ofcourse.
added on the 2007-10-11 13:06:09 by s0r s0r

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