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|Date: 2005/11/14 17:20:40, Link|
The recent debates and attacks on evolution are worrying. Not so much for scientists as I'm sure they can handle themselves just fine. What worries me is that much of the unneccessary debate is fuelled by the public's ignorance of science.
Face facts the average Joe in the street couldn't care less about Physics, Chemistry, or the Scientific Method for that matter.
Science is boring , and often taught in a boring and disinterested manner by grey faceless high school science teachers.
So what happens when passionate scammers with the gift of the gab come along and try to peddle their moral friendly science . Well Joe Bloggs falls for it hook line and sinker.
It amazes me the number of times otherwise intellegent and reasonable people repeat some of the pointless creationist drivel, such as "If we came from apes why are apes still here?" and "Evolution is just a theory".
Fact is You lot are doing a shite job. Sorry to say it but its the truth. If you lot can't get some of these basic ideas across to the public well we are never gonna get rid of the likes of Dembski et al.
So rant over, what can we do about it. Well I have several thoughts.
1) Don't treat people who don't understand science like idiots. (I do this alot and its a very bad habit of mine)
2) Be passionate about what you do.
3) Any other ideas??
I thought about putting a small simple web page up explaining the history of science for the lay person/ young adult. But i'm not a great writer maybe some of you guys could help me write it a bit better.
|Date: 2005/11/14 17:25:58, Link|
Heres the text of the page I was considering putting up with a few cartoons/images. If you could help me write it a bit better that would be cool!
A Brief 'istory of science
The thing called "science" is not some monolithic organisation which holds individual scientists in its thrall. Scientists don't live their lives in abject fear of telling TheTruth™. However that said there is agreement (for very good reason) of how proper science works.
In the olden days many learned men plied their trade as astrologers, herbalists, alchemists, astromoners, naturalists, engineers, and artists. It was a true hodge podge of brainiacs. Some could tell you the exact phases of the moon for the next 10 years, some would rather feel bumps on your head to tell the future, and there were some who would do both.
Well, you can imagine as the various nobility, kings, queens, dukes and sheikhs got a bit fed up poneying up for the useless scam artists and nutjobs they needed a way to distinguish between the credible and the well not credible.
So what happened to those learned men faced with a life of poverty with no wealthy patron? They did the sensible thing. They began to write to each other share ideas and propose theories. Correspondants would reply with critcisms ( after all I want to show Im just as employable as that whacko who thinks the earth is actually round) eventually tests and experiments are suggested and the scientists who 'got it right' is lauded and patronage would be gained via recommendation. Everyone was happy. Except that is the con artists who, well , had to go back to pig farming.
There are some very important concepts to take out of the above paragraph. For today allthough science and technology has advanced so much, it works in much the same way.
First is the concept of peer review, this is where a scientist work is challenged, criticised, and given a thorough going over by other members of the scientific community. Some will be convinced by arguments presented and some will reject them.
But surely that means science is just opinion? Well no, this brings us to the next important concept in science, and that is the concept of falsifiability.
Remember those tests and experiments I talked about earlier. Well the idea of predicting and testing is very important in rejecting or accepting a theory or aspect of a theory. A theory can have no merit if it rejects the idea that it can be wrong. Moreover if it doesnt provide any method or mechanism by which it can be proved wrong its becomes unfalsifiable or otherwise useless.
One way scientists show a theory is falsifiable is by making risky predictions. A prediction that couldn't be made without the tenets of the theory being true.
One of the most famous predictions was when einstien predicted that the apparent position of the stars in the sky near the sun would be displaced. This was a risky prediction as the only way this could be tested was at a solar eclpise. In 1919 ten years after his initial predictions were made Einstein was proved right.
So yeah its very important to be able to test theories.blahblah.... not sure what else to write... is what ive done already okay? too much? too little?