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Thread: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

  1. #131
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    Default Re: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

    Quote Originally Posted by Student of Trinity View Post
    That would be great, all right. But I don't think it's always possible to tell how good a source is just by looking at it. People who are absolutely full of crap can sound very smart. People can state nonsense and falsehoods with conviction and clarity. Some authorities with impressive credentials are nonetheless badly wrong. And on the other hand, people who are dead right can come across poorly.

    If you already know some stuff that a source discusses, you can evaluate that. If the source is sound about the stuff you know, then it might still be badly wrong about other stuff, but you can legitimately feel a bit better about the source's reliability. If the source is wrong about the stuff you know, then it might still be right about other stuff; but you can conclude that the source is unreliable, because whoever wrote it has been proven capable of talking crap.

    Of course, you mostly want to look at sources to learn something you don't already know. You can't always be lucky enough to find a source that happens to mention some things you do know, so you can use them as a reliability gauge. If the whole thing is new to you, one option is to consult a lot of different sources on the the same topic, and hope that the majority consensus is probably right. This only works if you get a fair sample; if the reference works you consult are all from the library of your local Ku Klux Klan, you'll seem to find racism as a clear consensus. And in any case it takes a lot of reading.

    If you can get an interactive source, then asking questions is a great way to check reliability. Maybe you can ask the source about the relationship between the topic that's new to you and a topic you already know. Failing that, it works surprisingly well to just be nosy. Ask whatever question strikes you, like a shamelessly prying relative. The effect is to look at the topic from multiple sides, instead of passively accepting the perspective being offered. That's no problem for truth, which is solid from any angle. But pretense and delusion usually only look good from one perspective, and as soon as you take a different angle, you see how flimsy they are.

    If it's a matter not of catching fraud or idiocy, but of gauging just how good a good source is, one thing I like to do is probe the limits of the source's knowledge. Push until they say, "I don't know." Everyone's knowledge has limits, but I'm impressed by people whose knowledge limits are gradual rather than sharp. They don't pass suddenly, between one question and the next, from confident detail to total ignorance. Instead they gradually become vaguer or less sure. The reason I like this is that it shows that the source themselves have tried to push their understanding further, and thought about its limits. That makes me more ready to believe that when they think they know for sure, they maybe do.

    Fourth-graders don't know much, unfortunately. Maybe there aren't even too many subjects on which they know enough to ask questions.

    Maybe the best exercise in critical thinking I can imagine for fourth-graders would involve how they assess each other's reliability. Does Jimmy believe what Sally tells him? Why, or why not? Maybe you could avoid hurting kids' feelings by assigning things to groups of kids, to tell to the rest of the class, and giving them some false things that they have to say. (Not necessarily lying — pretending to have made a mistake.) The topics could be things familiar to the kids, which they already know or could investigate, like what things can be found in the school playground, or what happened in school the previous week.

    The big point I'm imagining would be to tell the kids, afterwards, that every source they ever find will have been produced by somebody who used to a fourth-grader like Jimmy or Sally. They may have learned a lot since fourth grade, but they can still be wrong.
    Yes. Another way to vet a science vs pseudoscience is to look at its direction of evaluation. Science begins from the notation of a phenomenon. It works outward from there to discover causes and gathers data that can be generalized for many uses. Pseudoscience starts with a conclusion and then looks for anything that seems to support that conclusion. Usual arguments are that this or that random fact totally invalidates established understanding in a given field.

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  3. #132
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    Default Re: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

    Quote Originally Posted by SPsince83 View Post
    Yes. Another way to vet a science vs pseudoscience is to look at its direction of evaluation. Science begins from the notation of a phenomenon. It works outward from there to discover causes and gathers data that can be generalized for many uses. Pseudoscience starts with a conclusion and then looks for anything that seems to support that conclusion. Usual arguments are that this or that random fact totally invalidates established understanding in a given field.
    Yup. Cherry-picking cheaters.
    Imagine, if you will, a load of horseshit. And we’re not talking just your average load of horseshit; no, we’re talking colossal load of horseshit. An epic load of horseshit. The kind of load of horseshit that has accreted over decades and has developed its own sort of ecosystem, from the flyblown chunks at the perimeter, down into the heated and decomposing center, generating explosive levels of methane as bacteria feast merrily on vintage, liquified crap... -- John Scalzi

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  5. #133
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    Default Re: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

    Quote Originally Posted by Intentionally Blank View Post
    I have a suggestion. I know, when I teach even basic level critical thinking skills, folks don't have a clue as to what it means to evaluate information or the sources from which it came. Numbers (like stats), are particularly mind boggling for a lot of people. It would be tremendously helpful, I think, if one of you brainiac folks (Udarnik and Racecar, I'm lookin' at you) would offer a very basic outline (think: 4th graders) or checklist of how to begin to evaluate sources and information. and then I will plagiarize it for my students.....

    Blanky
    Well, it's a good idea. I have tried it before with cuitholic on his captain bill alien thread and on other conspiracy threads to little avail. I will probably do so again, still to no avail.

    I think a good place to start would be Michael Shermer's baloney detection kit.


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  7. #134
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    Default Re: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

    "Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through". Jonathan Swift

    “Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.” Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde

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  9. #135

    Default Re: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

    Quote Originally Posted by SPsince83 View Post
    Yes. Another way to vet a science vs pseudoscience is to look at its direction of evaluation. Science begins from the notation of a phenomenon. It works outward from there to discover causes and gathers data that can be generalized for many uses. Pseudoscience starts with a conclusion and then looks for anything that seems to support that conclusion. Usual arguments are that this or that random fact totally invalidates established understanding in a given field.
    That perfectly describes feminism and its ideas that it calls theories....this and the humanities. I think perhaps it's from a crashing Mis U of "theory" as "scientific theory"...definitions that are almost completely opposite because the process of the two are completely opposite. Theories are really hypotheses and never really go beyond that point. They start as a theory and then look for evidence whereas in science the evidence, if strong enough and verifiable, graduates into scientific theory.
    "Religion is free; Scientology is neither."

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  11. #136
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    Default Re: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

    Sounds rather like Critical Theory (SJWs, BLM etc...)

    Jack
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    You forget all about the golden rule"
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  13. #137

    Default Re: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

    Exactly. Pseudo all day long.

    They start as a theory and then very quickly find evidence to support it. Like microaggressions being backed by medical evidence. LOL

    Scientific theory is a slow process, in contrast.

    Reminds me of an attorney friend who builds his case over time. His philosophy is that he doesn't provide enough evidence to win a case it's that he builds such an insurmountable amount of evidence that he can keep going and going and going way beyond having "enough" and can bury the court to decide in his favor beyond a shadow of a doubt. He's meticulous and does research up front and only takes a case that he can do that with.

    It's a long, arduous, slow process. But it's airtight. He's never lost in court.
    "Religion is free; Scientology is neither."

    "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." - George Orwell, 1984

    "L. Ron Hubbard is the cult leader for the crime that is Scientology." - Cleverbot

    "And while we're at it I might as well toss this in for a good laugh. We were doing a lot of "research" on Rockslams at that time and one of the Hubbard thing's rockslamming items was...(oh you're going to love this)...'unlimited wealth'" - Mystic

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