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United States Science

The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science 600

Posted by Soulskill
from the pi-is-exactly-3 dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. general population is often the butt of jokes with regard to their understanding of science. A survey by the Associated Press now shows just how arbitrary and erratic the public's dissent can be. 'The good news is that more than 80 percent of those surveyed are strongly confident that smoking causes cancer; only four percent doubt it. Roughly 70 percent accepted that we have a genome and that mental illness is seated in the brain; about 20 percent were uncertain on these subjects, and the doubters were few. But things go downhill from there. Only about half of the people accepted that vaccines are safe and effective, with 15 percent doubting. And that's one of the controversial topics where the public did well. As for humanity's role in climate change, 33 percent accepted, 28 percent were unsure, and 37 percent fell in the doubter category. For a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth and a 13.8-billion-year-old Big Bang, acceptance was below 30 percent. Fully half of the public doubted the Big Bang (PDF).'"
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The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

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  • Re:Hmm (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @07:41PM (#46819213)
    Yes, unless you're a Republican, in which case you probably reject most scientific fact and believe in a literal interpretation of the Holy Bible.
  • by Irate Engineer (2814313) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @07:43PM (#46819223)

    Don't ALL scientists doubt the Big Bang and other models for the universe in the sense that they are all subject to comparison with observations? If a model conflicts with observation, the model either must be dropped or modified.

    Science isn't about believing something to be true.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @07:45PM (#46819229)

    Funny thing about this is that anyone actually involved in science would reject the assertion that any theory of how we came to be is a fact. They might say it's a theory with strong evidence, or a weak hypothesis (as in the case of the big bang), but would reject any assertion that one theory was a "fact."

  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @07:45PM (#46819231)

    You are going to see that where Science conflicts with Religion, and in some cases Industry. The Current Science that we have, with the technology and Anthropology we have, rules out the possibility of the Christian religion having any basis in reality. It doesn't rule out the possibility a god exists. It only means that the current dominant Abrahamic religions are not realistic descriptions of the universe we live in.

    But these religions justify how we treat other people, why certain social groups are stigmatized, and have a heavy impact on who are leaders are, what our laws are, how we raise our children, and the legitimacy of the standing governments. If the Religions aren't true, then there is no justification for the political positions of MANY people in the US Government.

    In other cases, its that we are so dependent on dangerous sources of fuel, like Coal, and Petroleum, that there is the fear of an economic death spiral. So we shut our eyes and want to live in fantasy land, until it kills us.

  • by XanC (644172) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @07:48PM (#46819243)

    The article conflates two very different types of science. One is experimental: cigarettes cause cancer. That's a testable, provable (and proven) hypothesis. The scientific method can be used. Alternate explanations can be systematically disproven.

    Then there's the science that says, "because X and Y are true, it makes sense that Z is true". Note that it does NOT say "therefore Z MUST be true", which is what the article is implying. Z is something like the story of the universe from Big Bang through inflation up to today, or the story of manmade global warming. "Science" can project itself in those directions and come up with some answers, but there is no scientific method on a narrative. There are no controlled experiments. Every alternate hypothesis cannot be evaluated. They are at best projections, models. They're not "truth" without faith.

  • Re:Shocking... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by readin (838620) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @08:07PM (#46819331)
    Climate change: A theory about very complex system to model with the most famous proponent being a politician who stands to make a lot of money if the theory is widely accepted but whose personal behaviors (traveling by private plane, having a huge house) indicate that he's not too worried about how much impact he makes. Of course there will be some doubters

    Vaccines are safe and effective: Are people questioning science or are they questioning politicians and pharmaceutical companies? Even good-hearted politicians might be tempted to tell a noble lie about this. If a vaccine isn't safe but it is effective, then the negative effects of killing a few people directly might be considered to be outweighed by the positive effects of indirectly saving even more. And of course pharmaceutical companies have profits to worry about (that they use to bribe politicians). The research funded by those companies says the vaccines are safe? There was a lot research funded by cigarette companies saying smoking was safe too.

    The age of the earth and the big bang? It is one thing to know and understand the science, it is another to believe the evidence isn't outweighed by other knowledge. Do I believe dinosaurs existed? Well I believe that we find dinosaur bones in the ground that appear to be millions of years old, and that the science of evolution is sound and explains many things including much human physiology and behavior, and I certainly do make use of that knowledge for understanding animals and other humans. But if you asked me if I "believe" in evolution... well the Bible can be interpreted to say otherwise and I believe God can give us whatever evidence he wants - though I don't know if he would. So such a survey might count me as a doubter of evolution even though I understand and use the theory regularly.


    I'm not saying Americans are well-educated about science. I've seen plenty of evidence that they're not. On the other hand I've dealt with a lot of foreigners and their scientific understanding seems pretty limited too. What I'm saying is that these kinds of surveys can be very misleading about people. It's sort of like that question about Obama's religion and the supposed proof that Fox viewers were ignorant because they thought he was Muslim. But those same viewers had been fed plenty of information about his church in Chicago - how could they be as ignorant as people were claiming? What the people pushing the survey were ignoring is that Fox viewers might be well aware of what Obama claimed to be but just didn't believe him because of other things he said and did - while the survey pushers were simply taking everything Obama said at face value without any skepticism.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @08:09PM (#46819347)

    Your terminology however may cause confusion.

    As currently all available evidence does point to the big bang.

    Therefore until any evidence contradicts that, it is the accepted model.

    Saying scientists 'doubt' any of that can be technically correct if you play with your words enough, but in common language, no they do not.

  • by EvolutionInAction (2623513) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @08:10PM (#46819353)

    That's misrepresenting it again though. Scientists don't doubt the Big Bang or evolution. They are theories that will continue to evolve as we find more evidence. They will modify them to fit the facts. The chances of some revolutionary, completely new method of interpreting the data is very, very slim at this point.

  • Re:Vaccines (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the phantom (107624) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @08:11PM (#46819361) Homepage

    I'm not entirely sure what your point is supposed to be. If your definition of safe is "completely devoid of any possibility of risk," then I wonder how you justify getting out of bed every morning. A more reasonable argument is that safety is always a relative measure. Injuries attributable to common vaccines are uncommon, permanent damage is incredibly rare, and death occurs at a frequency that can best be described as vanishingly small. On the other hand, many of the diseases that we vaccinate against often cause permanent damage or death, and weakening the herd immunity puts not only the individual at risk, but society at large. So, yes, there are some potential (though very small) risks to vaccination, but that does not mean that they are unsafe.

  • by nobuddy (952985) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @08:20PM (#46819401) Homepage Journal

    The age is constantly revised as the ability to measure increases. usually it is given an "at least" age- the technology and methodology sets a minimum date that the universe cannot be younger than. Sometimes the method gives a range, as the 12-16B one did. Now we are at 13.77B, the next may narrow it down to a date and time...

  • by the phantom (107624) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @08:25PM (#46819437) Homepage
    Ad hominem, no true Scotsman, a false analogy, an appeal to authority, some God of the gaps, and straw man arguments---and that's just what I can see off the top of my head. Nice. That is some mighty fine trolling.
  • by Bonobo_Unknown (925651) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @08:26PM (#46819445)
    My biggest problem with surveys like these is that they public are being asked to reply with certainties that are far greater in clarity and definition than any scientist working on these fields would ever propose. And then the ignorant public are laughed at for doubting scientific truth. No cosmologist would ever state they were 100% certain that the big bang happened, and yet we laugh at the public for not being certain either. True ignorance shows itself as certainty, either for or against supposed "scientific" principles. Being uncertain is okay, as long as you are aware of some of the options.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @08:26PM (#46819451)

    That'd be a fair point, but I'd wager that many of the people involved take bronze age writings and conspiracy theories at face value.

  • Re:Shocking... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @08:58PM (#46819597)

    Are you being serious? None of the things in that article are seriously under any reasonable doubt. If given a choice between true/false/unsure on any of them, then yes, the only reasonable and rational decision is 'sure'. Anything more than 0% dissent is too much. Now if you were given the option to put a confidence estimate, like say 99% sure, then yeah, I'd agree with you. You could reasonably have maybe 1% doubt about the big bang. But that's not "unsure", by any metric.

    There is controversy in science, and a lot of it. For instance, there's controversy on the efficacy of a lot of recent drugs and medical recommendations. But there's no controversy that vaccines are effective. There's no controversy that evolution is real and did happen. There's no controversy that global warming is happening. There may be controversy about the _results_ of global warming in the future - and that's an entirely reasonable, but separate, debate.

  • by Jmc23 (2353706) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:02PM (#46819623) Journal
    Careful!! Too much critical thinking and you might start wondering who 'sponsored' the survey!
  • by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:03PM (#46819627)

    You also have a pretty fucked up understanding of Christianity

    So do a lot of Christians. See "Christian economics", "protestant work ethic", and similar.

    You might want to start with looking at who actually proposed the big bang theory in the first place, and until you do, shut the fuck up you ignorant twit.

    Yes, a Catholic priest. As a general rule, Catholics seem to be significantly more sane than various American protestant sects on several issues.

  • by quantaman (517394) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:06PM (#46819635)

    The article conflates two very different types of science. One is experimental: cigarettes cause cancer. That's a testable, provable (and proven) hypothesis. The scientific method can be used. Alternate explanations can be systematically disproven.

    Then there's the science that says, "because X and Y are true, it makes sense that Z is true". Note that it does NOT say "therefore Z MUST be true", which is what the article is implying. Z is something like the story of the universe from Big Bang through inflation up to today, or the story of manmade global warming. "Science" can project itself in those directions and come up with some answers, but there is no scientific method on a narrative. There are no controlled experiments. Every alternate hypothesis cannot be evaluated. They are at best projections, models. They're not "truth" without faith.

    That sounds a lot like Ken Ham's distinction of observational vs historical science.

    How do you actually test that cigarettes cause cancer? A big observational study? Well maybe people smoke because they're stressed or not health conscious, and they have a natural per-disposition to lung cancer. Build it from theory? Sure the smoke causes these problems in the lungs that we would expect to cause cancer, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're causing the cancer.

    Now how do we test the Big Bang theory? A big observational study? We can see things that look a lot like after effects of what a big bang would look like, but maybe we're misidentifying them. Theory? There's a lot of theory about the universe that suggests a big bang, but that could be a mistake.

    Clearly the cigarette cancer link is a lot easier to demonstrate than the big bang theory, or AGW, but they're not really alternative types of science. At the end of the day all of science is a mixture of observe X, where X is either a constructed experiment or a data set collected from the universe, and develop a theory Y, where Y has to explain X and all the previous observations we've made.

    Putting a bunch of cigarette smoke into a lung and expecting it to develop cancer requires "faith" in the same way that putting a bunch of CO2 into the atmosphere and expecting it to develop warming does. The latter problem is a harder one no doubt, but it follows the same approach of incremental collection of data and development of theories to explain that data.

  • Re:Shocking... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:14PM (#46819667)

    The survey is crap.

    Just take this statement: "A mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain."

    Does mental illness affect the brain? Or is it caused by the brain? Is distinguishing the two even sensible? Is it a "medical condition" or a behavioral state? Is asserting that it is a "medical condition" a political statement that someone should take issue with (e.g., PTSD is listed in the DSM--is that a "medical condition"? Is depression following sexual abuse a "medical condition"? Is obesity a "medical condition"?)

    Or this statement: "Inside our cells, there is a complex genetic code that helps determine who we are." Does the genetic code "determine" who we are? What does "who we are" even mean?

    "Childhood vaccines are safe and effective." *All* vaccines? Even ones I don't even know about?

    "The universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang." I can't remember if it was exactly 13.8 billion years ago. Was it a big "bang" or a big "expansion" [profmattstrassler.com]?

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:27PM (#46819723)

    I stopped listening when one of them wanted to argue that the King James book was God's word.

    God's word? That book is a translation of a (very bad, I may add) translation of a translation of a translation. And possibly you have to add another "of a translation" in there, the jury's still out on that one.

    That's like a homeopathic dose of God's word.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:38PM (#46819767)

    If you have a model that explains our observation better, we're happy to hear it.

    A working theory is just that. A theory. It's what people came up with based on what they can observe (the funny part is that the same is actually true for all the religious texts that explain how the world came to be. Man observed his universe and, lacking any other kind of explanation, invented some Gods that explain his observation. Sadly, these theories were not improved over time but enshrined as "holy texts").

    New observations will be made over time. At least I'd hope so. These observations now either fit into the theory (now that would be great) or they don't. If they don't, it's time to fiddle with the theory. Dark matter and dark energy are indeed a bit of a puzzle since we can observe their gravitational effect, but it doesn't interact with the rest of the universe in any other way. It's just "there". There are actually quite a few ideas what could be behind it, but for a theory they pretty much all lack the "angle" to test them.

  • by Namarrgon (105036) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:01PM (#46819859) Homepage

    Climate change: A theory about very complex system to model with the most famous proponent being a politician [with vested interests and suspect behaviour]. Of course there will be some doubters.

    Thank you for summing up the core of the problem: too many people think celebrities are more believable than science, when it comes to being told what to think.

    If Al Gore had "discovered" climate change, and was the only significant person promoting the theory with little convincing evidence, then people would certainly be right to doubt. But when Gore is only one notable figure of many that's echoing what the huge majority of climatologists have been telling us for decades, and when those climatologists have reams of peer-reviewed studies summarising multiple lines of evidence to back up their conclusions, then who gives a flying fuck about Gore?

    Sadly, the answer is "the public", or more specifically, that sector of the public that don't want to accept any responsibility and would rather reframe the debate to be about celebrities and their credibility. Same goes with vaccines - much of the focus is on McCarthy instead of the evidence. Plus of course the Bible itself is probably the biggest celebrity ever, in a way.

    Solution? Dunno. Stop clicking on every damn story with a celebrity in it, maybe, and perhaps then "news" outlets might not give such weight to their opinions. Won't help people face facts, but it will reduce the noise levels at least.

  • re; You Should? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:18PM (#46819929)

    I don't think that's even the point. If people doubted the big bang because they carefully considered the arguments and found some flaws that made them doubt it, that would be fine. They doubt it because they can't imagine the terms involved, because a religious book says it isn't true, or mainly just because they don't want to think about it. For the same reason that people think low frequency radiation from their computer is dangerous but Gamma radiation from water at a hot spring isn't. For the same reason people use IE instead of Firefox or Chrome. It usually isn't that they've educated themselves and weighed the evidence - it's that they can't be bothered - and yet at the same time, they feel a need to express their uneducated opinion.

    Anecdotal Evidence/Case in point: A friend of a friend who lives in Kansas, USA started trying to buy up bottled water after the Tsunami incident in Japan. Because, you know, the water in the US was going to be contaminated soon. Riiight. Here I live in Tokyo and the water is generally safe, but the water in Kansas was to be undrinkable. Yet he was going to solve this by somehow buying enough water to last a lifetime? I guess food wasn't to be affected. People are just, in general, stupid and illogical - and it doesn't seem to bother many of them.

    People in society need to start doing two things:
    1. Educate themselves so that they can do some critical thinking about the world in general and enlarge their world view. Start actually caring about things other than which celebrity is cheating on who.
    2. Recognize when you don't know and don't care to put forth the required effort and defer to the experts instead of talking bullshit. Sure, the experts may be wrong occasionally - especially about models of the universe or financial predictions - but they have in general a much better chance of knowing what they are talking about than you do, if you can't be bothered to do #1 above.

  • Re:Shocking... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by able1234au (995975) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:19PM (#46819935)

    Age of the earth; Personally I think a global flood story fits the geology better than reliance on gradual processes. Perhaps triggered by a huge asteroid bombardment that hit the entire solar system (my fathers pet theory that he has been researching and may write a book on). Most of the geological record is made of very clean flat sedimentary layers with no signs of habitation or erosion. I believe the Fossil record was mostly sorted by water, sinking based on size or density not age or biological complexity. All those dinosaurs died out quite quickly after the climate changed or humans decided to hunt them. I have yet to see any evidence that compels me to believe that evolutionary processes can create new cellular machines. Yet animals change in various ways and adapt to external selection pressures quite rapidly. Most evidence of adaptation seems to be achieved though tweaking the parameters of existing features, or the destruction of existing cellular machinery.

    Read up on Strata Smith. Basically your theory is similar to the theories before he noted that fossils were increasing in complexity as they went up the layers, and he could identify the layers based on the fossils he found in them and he could successfully predict the next layers above and below. This made him money predicting where coal would be found, which was big money back in Victorian england. So basically your theory was disapproved over a hundred years ago, assuming you take into account the evidence. If you ignore the evidence, well then, basically any theory can be proved. That is how religion works.

  • Vaccines Safe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:24PM (#46819951)

    Well I don't thin it's unreasonable to declare Vaccines "safe" and still have a few people die from them every year.
    People die from placebo pills. People die from injections of saline solution. People die from nothing or from unrelated things.

    "Safe" means that your chances of dying are less after the vaccine than before it. If the vaccine has a 1% chance of killing you, but you have a 50% chance of dying from a horrible disease without it - then the vaccine is safe and effective. If the vaccine has a 1% chance of killing you, but you have only a 0.001% chance of dying from the disease it prevents then it may be a bad deal (not "safe") even if it is effective at preventing the disease from killing you.

    From the numbers I have seen, most vaccines are both safe and effective by those criteria. Of course, the more the disease numbers go down through the use of vaccines, the less danger you will be in to start with, so in the short term, it may start to look like some vaccines are a bad deal. The POINT though is that the vaccines have a very low "incidence" rate and they don't cause half the people who take the vaccine to develop autism or anything like that.

  • by EvolutionInAction (2623513) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:31PM (#46819981)

    The trick about science is that we refine knowledge. Let's talk about matter. Way back when, people basically thought stuff was stuff. There was no logic to it, so they broke it into four elements. Eventually it was refined - no, it's not four. No, fire isn't an element. Look, we can split this substance out of this compound and it burns like hell! Eventually we figured out that matter is made of many, many elements. Oxygen and nitrogen and carbon and hydrogen and so many others. We said they were made of atoms. The word literally means "indivisible." The world they understood said that atoms were the smallest thing! But again, we refined. There were mysteries that we pried at until we figured out the next thing - atoms could be split! There were electrons and neutrons and protons. And we fiddled and we pried and we figured out that these particles could be broken down! Quarks dancing to a probabalistic tune that hurts to even think about.

    Do you see what's happening here? Even if we figure out that our theories about quarks are wrong, it's not going to blow up the theories that depend on electrons and protons and neutrons. Each time we make a new theory, we are refining the old ones. The changes become smaller and more focused.

    Sometimes something comes completely out of left field and rewrites a branch of science. But you can't base your life around such a thing happening. You just accept that you might be wrong about a few things so that you can be mostly right about a lot of things. It's better than using no logic at all and being wrong about pretty much everything.

    You say you doubt the Big Bang and that's great because "it's just a working theory." If something comes along to re-write that theory, it's not going to make the universe 6000 years old for you. It'll be something small, something that fascinates mathematicians and is completely impenetrable to the rest of us.

  • by MildlyTangy (3408549) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:52PM (#46820065)

    As opposed to food that is fertilized with a substance that does not come from the excretory organs of an animal.

    You say that like its a bad thing.

  • Re:re; You Should? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pepty (1976012) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:14PM (#46820139)
    The Big Bang question actually conflates 2 questions: "did the universe start with a Big Bang?", and "was it 13.8 billion years ago?" Hell, I would have answered "somewhat confident" to that question because I didn't remember off the top of my head what the current estimate for the age of the universe is.
  • Re:Shocking... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beck_Neard (3612467) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @12:22AM (#46820347)

    Those who would advocate AGW need to provide a solid convincing answer to one thing: the temperature of every planet in the solar system has increased, not just Earth's. I think we can agree there are no humans on Venus and Neptune cutting down trees and burning fossil fuels.

    Bullshit; there is no evidence supporting the idea that all planets are warming uniformly and at the same relative rate (which would be necessary for this idea). Any climate variations on other planets is perfectly well explained by proximity to the sun and natural environmental fluctuations. The warming of the Earth, on the other hand, is not explained by these factors. Besides, there's no evidence that the current epoch of warming of the Earth has tracked solar output (in fact there's no evidence that the sun's output has varied significantly, on average, in the past few millenia).

    But it's curious how people would cling to the data on the climate on other planets - which is tenuous and sparse at best - and ignore the massive amount of evidence we have for Earth's climate, CO2 concentration, and the interlinking of these two.

    And yes, ocean acidity is a huge problem and it's caused by CO2. In fact it's one of the main problems that our carbon emissions have caused.

  • Re:Shocking... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @12:25AM (#46820355) Homepage Journal

    OK, I give. What was it that really eradicated polio then? I'm going to take a wild guess and say that it wasn't fluoride in the water that did it either.

  • Re:Shocking... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tolkienfan (892463) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @12:29AM (#46820375) Journal
    It IS inconsistent with a rapid deposit. The depth isn't correlated with density, or weight or buoyancy. Instead it's correlated with complexity. Organisms survive because they are still well adapted to their environment. Anyone with the slightest education in evolution would be able to answer that. Also, a few strata have isotopes that aren't found on earth anywhere else, but are found on meteors, and these strata perfectly partition fossil - just as if a large meteor broke up in the atmosphere and was distributed over a large area, somewhere between two ages with different animals. This is completely inconsistent with all the strata being deposited at once. Not to mention we have a very good idea of the rate of sediment deposits which is consistent with the estimated ages of the fossil records. Also consistent with documented volcanoe eruptions which have caused identifiable deposits. Also, the types of plankton and krill have changed over time in ways that leave different variants in different strata, but inconsistent with a sudden deposit, since these species all were essentially the same, and wouldn't be expected to differ in buoyancy. That's just off the top of my head - and I'm no expert. If you want to attack the science, at least learn some of it first.
  • by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @03:07AM (#46820811)

    Well, yes, ... - but what you are saying is nothing more than what all scientists agree on: that all theories are models limited by our understanding and observattions. The big bang model is a proper theory, by the way: a hypothesis, that has produced predictions, none of which have been falsified. And it is amazingly accurate for such a long shot. We have very little reason to doubt that something very much like a huge explosion happened around 13 - 14 billion years ago; where the doubt creeps in is some time before inflation. That is no surprise, since we, as scientists, are working within the limits of our observations and can only speculate about what we can't (yet) observe.

    I'm not convinced about what you say about time and location, or measurements; for one thing, we still don't have a clear understanding of several of the fundamental concept we use. For example, why does time seem to be so different from other dimensions? Why does the speed of light seem invariable? What is a particle? And a field? And mass, electric charge, ....? Just because we have a mathematical form to fit these observables into, doesn't mean that we actually understand what they are.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @03:50AM (#46820967)

    Doubt "Big Bang"?

    Well you should.

    I agree with you post but...

    And there's always a but.

    There's a big difference between someone who doubts the big bang because they evidence isn't conclusive and it's just the best hypothesis we have right now and someone who doubts the big bang because an 1700 year old book says a sky man created the earth in 7 days.

    The former has doubts because their mind open to other possibilities, the latter because their mind is closed to other possibilities. Doubt is really the wrong word for the latter, but they like it because it allows them to get a word in to rational conversations and once that happens, well you know the old saying about arguing with an idiot.

  • by sudon't (580652) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @04:08AM (#46821027)

    Another thing that the American public is confused about, is the difference between the way science uses the word "theory," and the colloquial use of the word. In other words, most Americans think "theory" means "hypothesis." They hear "the theory of evolution" as "the hypothesis of evolution" because they have that idiom, "it's just a theory," (meaning mere speculation), at the front of their minds. This gives rise to specious arguments, even from otherwise intelligent people, such as, "Gravity is just a theory, too!" Better to explain the difference between an hypothesis and a theory, if you're going to say anything at all.

  • by dave420 (699308) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @04:22AM (#46821071)
    The hubris is strong with this one. First, your "logic" and "reason" are telling you something evidence does not, and secondly you still think it matters that your boss calls you a senior systems engineer/architect. And yes, you are anti-science, as you are making assumptions about reality, claiming they are scientifically valid, and then getting upset when people point that out to you. You aren't questioning theories - you are ignoring them and putting your own hypotheses in their place, devoid of supporting evidence beyond urban myth and lazy thinking. You are the Glenn Beck of science. I hope you are happy with yourself - judging by your ego, you probably are.
  • it's simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gzuckier (1155781) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:09PM (#46829665)
    when science gives me antibiotics and cell phones, i believe in it totally. when it tells me i need to be careful about where I toss my waste products, it's a hoax. I've found this rule to be easy to follow.

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