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View Diary: BBC Will No Longer Give Climate Change Deniers A Platform (177 comments)

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  •  As a scientist myself, I agree with you. (10+ / 0-)

    I love the fact that popular science shows, like Tyson's Cosmos, exist, and infuse enthusiasm for science into new generations. But I am routinely disappointed  by how they inevitably fail to teach how science happens, and what it is, mechanistically speaking. A short cartoon interlude of a medieval astronomer spending long lonely nights in his tower window, culminating in being burned at the stake, isn't very edifying in this regard. Of course, the real thing doesn't make for very good teevee. In the day-to-day grind, for 99.9% of scientists, science is a typically tedious affair, but how it's done is important for people to understand, because only then can they understand why it works so dang well, and how deeply embedded in the scientific process are the error detection and correction mechanisms that insure that the sometimes inevitable nonsense, puffery and chicanery (which every human discipline has its share of) doesn't last long.

    As a scientist, I always have to laugh at the conspiracy-theorist's notion that 97% of scientists are conspiring to (whatever). As if. Getting two scientists to just agree on what appetizer to order is dang near impossible. A conspiracy of thousands is about as laughable a notion as could be imagined. But because most people don't know any scientists or anything about what they do and how they do it, they don't realize this.

    No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

    by DocDawg on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 11:18:50 AM PDT

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    •  I see this all the time on, (4+ / 0-)

      A blog written by Gavin Schmidt that includes the latest research on climate. Yikes, can those scientists squabble!

      It is a really good site though. It has a tag on the upper left that says "start here" that explains how science works, how it is peer reviewed, and has a very detailed explanation on climate change.

      Worth a look:

      A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

      by Gwennedd on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 12:51:37 PM PDT

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    •  You must not have watched the new Cosmos (1+ / 0-)
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      very carefully. Did you not see the episode with the information about Galileo (real, not apocryphal this time), the lead controversy (I'm a geologist and appalled I didn't know the story of Clair Patterson --- a story fortunately many people should know.)

    •  what i think is needed, is a big-picture... (4+ / 0-)

      ... explanation of the paradigm behind scientific method.

      Observe, hypothesize, test, publish, refine.

      Nature is lawful, nature is observable, and hypotheses are testable statements.

      Controlled experiment.  Alter one variable at a time.

      Falsification.  This one is difficult for most people to get, because it involves thinking in negatives, something the human brain has not evolved to do very effectively.

      This stuff could be illustrated by animations and graphics, with a few complete examples from start to finish.  At least one of those examples should be basic cog sci perception stuff that people can go out and check for themselves, for example something to do with optics and vision.

      The key here is to get people accustomed to thinking this way and applying it in their daily lives.  

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 05:13:44 PM PDT

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      •  "Alter one variable at a time" (6+ / 0-)

        God love ya; I spent half a lifetime trying to pound this into grad students' and post-docs' heads...often with limited success. Easy to say, but (for most people) remarkably hard to actually do. It turns out the world is full of 'hidden' uncontrolled variables, which many folks just don't seem to have an eye for. I finally came to the conclusion that first-rate experimentalists are born, not made.

        The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves

        by DocDawg on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 09:29:07 PM PDT

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      •  I love this idea (1+ / 0-)
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        Catchy, innocuous/insidious (b/c informative) and perhaps most importantly, entertaining PSAs: a series along the lines of Schoolhouse Rock might do the trick!

        It'd be an uphill battle, though. :sigh:

    •  Cosmos included a good deal of the tedium (1+ / 0-)
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      you request, such as cataloging the spectra of hundreds of thousands of stars (produced entirely by a group of women, Pickering's" Harvard Computers"), then deriving the temperatures of stars from that data, then working out stellar evolution from that. Scientists then applied large amounts of atomic mass and radioactive decay data to work out fusion chains and thus the sources of energy for each phase of a star's life.

      Or the decades during which Clair Patterson sought out every form of lead contamination in his laboratories in order to measure the age of the Earth, followed by further decades running down all the sources of lead in the environment, from deep oceans to Antarctic ice, in order to show that leaded gasoline was poisoning us and get tetraethyl lead banned, against corporate-funded denialism exactly like that for tobacco causing cancer and CO2 causing Global Warming.

      Or the years of collecting followed by decades of analysis behind Charles Darwin's theories of Natural Selection and Sexual Selection.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 10:02:57 PM PDT

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      •  Darwin had it easy. (1+ / 0-)
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        Years of collecting birds is not least not compared to years of carefully transferring very small volumes of water from one container to another while gowned and gloved at a lab bench under fluorescent lights (which is what most biological research today usually amounts to).

        Tip of the hat to my field biology friends...I know, I know, field work isn't nearly as romantic as it seems from the outside. But it still beats all to hell a lifetime spent moving water back and forth, 50 microliters at a time.

        The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves

        by DocDawg on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 05:36:28 AM PDT

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