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Old 07-01-2004, 02:34 AM   #1
SkinWalker
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Suicide by Pseudoscience

Wired Magazine has an article worth a read.

It starts out reporting criticisms of the Bush administrations positions on science related issues:

he Union of Concerned Scientists in a February report pointed out something the science press has known for years: The Bush administration has no respect for science. Ideologues prefer to make up the laws of nature as they go.

But the writer, Bruce Sterling, goes on to point out some possible if not probable consequences of state-sponsered pseudoscience, drawing comparissons with Trofim Lysenko of Stalin's agricultural department. Lysenko had a lot of whacky ideas, like the belief that he could stimulate the growth of forrests by overcrowding them with trees to force them to cooperate. How communistic!

Pseudoscience is defined by Wordnet of Princeton University's Cognitive Science Laboratory as "an activity resembling science but based on fallacious assumptions."

Is the American society in danger of being "dumbed down?" It seems like scientific professionals from engineers & physicists to doctors & dentists are being imported from abroad. Are American kids too lazy to do the math/science in High School in order to get enough interest to go to college, or could it be that American teens simply aren't interested in science careers? If so, why?


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Old 07-01-2004, 09:17 AM   #2
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well, on your last point at least, part of our job in the uk is to try and encourage interest in science... but i don't think we will have a lot of luck.
There are various reasons for this, but i'd think one of the main ones would be that science is near enough the antithesis of what "kids these days" are taught to want from life (by the media or the american dream or whatever).
It involves a fair amount of hard work, there are limited chances to be well paid, limited chances to be famous or gain recognition, most work has very few immediate results and it just basically isnt very glamorous....
All the government campaigns in the world aren't likely to do much to change that...

The republican party in general (not singling bush out for once) always seems willing to put beliefs over facts. (The democrats probably do the same to some degree...).
It is clear however that the US public LIKES politicians who tell them straighforward, black and white answers.... real science however is rarely striaghtforward, black and white or even conclusive. Try getting a scientist to commit to ANYTHING categorically. I'd expect that the reasuring certainties of pseudoscience will remain more popular with politicians than the actual truth... as always...



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Old 07-01-2004, 12:23 PM   #3
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I don't really care what each side says about science- let's please separate science from politics?

I like science, and always will be. I'm more interested into a medical career.

Now, what made me interested in science? Not politicians, not even teachers. I just like to learn, and science appeals to me because it offers many explanations to occurences, and is fun to research. So I really don't care if there's such a case as "politicians dumbing down teenagers".

Scientists being imported from abroad? Well you can find many Indian computer programmers/related workers, because we all know that India has a program for that. Train your kid with computers, send them to the US to get a job, and the kid, now an adult, sends money back home to support their family and government. That is one example.

Furthermore, you'd find many bright people abroad because of one good reason: they work hard. They're forced to if they want to make a living, whereas American teens and college students probably don't feel like they need to work that hard.

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Old 07-02-2004, 02:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Politics without objective, honest measurement of results is a deadly short circuit. It means living a life of sterile claptrap, lacquering over failure after intellectual failure with thickening layers of partisan abuse. Charlatans like Lysenko can't clarify serious, grown-up problems that they themselves don't understand.
::thumbup1::

Quote:
It involves a fair amount of hard work, there are limited chances to be well paid, limited chances to be famous or gain recognition, most work has very few immediate results and it just basically isnt very glamorous...
All the government campaigns in the world aren't likely to do much to change that...
They shouldn't. We don't need many scientists. We need damn good scientists! What we do need, however, is to get people to understand that there are four things that you need to be accomplished in in order to avoid appearing like a dim-wit:

1) Your native language.

2) The languages of the world: English and Math

3) Science

4) History, politics and the humanities

In that order. If a significant portion of society is not fluent in the four above diciplines, democracy will fall apart.

Quote:
let's please separate science from politics?
The management or mismanagement of science is a political issue. When dubya pollutes science with his own personal doctrines, it is a political issue. So lets keep politics out of science, and science in politics.

Quote:
Now, what made me interested in science? Not politicians, not even teachers. I just like to learn, and science appeals to me because it offers many explanations to occurences, and is fun to research.
A laudable if unusual sentiment. May I ask what level of science we are talking about here?

Quote:
Furthermore, you'd find many bright people abroad because of one good reason: they work hard. They're forced to if they want to make a living, whereas American teens and college students probably don't feel like they need to work that hard.
The point is here, I think. Kids are too lazy to learn math, which is the only pathway to science. And the kids' teachers are too laze to demand that the kids learn it.


Last edited by ShadowTemplar; 07-25-2004 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 07-03-2004, 12:05 PM   #5
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i think people's brains are just wired differently. Especially with respect to maths.
I knew one guy who was perfectly smart, but he never could make it as far as even GCSE(age 16) maths, no matter how hard he tried. He just couldn't get it.
I had no problem with maths at all (A at GCSE, A-level, merits, etc..) until the 3rd year at university when i basically just HIT A WALL as far as understanding went. Everything up to that point, no problem at all, from that point on... might as well have been speaking Urdu.

So you basically have a limited number of people with an aptitude in a given area (ie, science), the trick isn't to convince more people to take up science (as those who can't do it will quickly get frustrated) but to retain the interest of those that CAN do it. Which is hard when it isn't as immediately rewarding, glamorous or well paying as many similar fields.



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