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Mouthwash on Science Communication and Scientific Literacy

03 Dec 2017 06:09

Sagan is a highly overrated figure. While he may have made contributions to science, he also popularized an egotistical, elitist version of it: "Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works." There's a straight path leading from this to modern managerial liberalism and proposals for epistocracy. Not only is it ethically dubious to talk about 'informed democracy' (as though uninformed people should be barred from voting), it's not clear what he is even referring to when he uses the word science. He tries to define it, but his claims are similar to those of Marxists asserting that 'true communism' was never implemented, because communism by definition doesn't have a state/use coercion/censor free speech. As far as I can see, his Platonic ideal of science isn't practiced anywhere outside of certain STEM fields (psychology and pharmaceutical papers replicate 40% and 20% respectively, it only took dieticians three decades to figure out they were completely wrong about fat, science journalists are an extinct species, etc). Ivy League-educated bureaucrats are not, as Sagan believed, the real heroes of society - they are no different from the astrologers and ufologists that he rails against.

Other annoyances: he apparently thinks "if God created the universe, who created God" is a good argument against theism, and doesn't seem to understand the concept of anthropics.

That's all I have to say. Comments/rebuttals welcome.
Last edited by Mouthwash on 04 Dec 2017 00:36, edited 4 times in total.
 
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Carl Sagan appreciation thread

03 Dec 2017 07:06

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post Not only is it ethically dubious to talk about 'informed democracy' (as though uninformed people should be barred from voting)

:D sounds like an hilarious and deliberately forged meaning. A basic understanding of what you are going to vote and the consequences of your choice for others in years to come should be well into possibilities of educated people, moreover they have the right to be informed and it's their duty to pursue the goal of correct information, in every democracy. A key point in this rattling definition is why they are uninformed. I think this should go in politics thread, though, as not directly related to the topic.
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03 Dec 2017 07:31

I see nothing ethical in an uninformed democracy.
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03 Dec 2017 09:50

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post he also popularized an egotistical, elitist version of it: "Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works." There's a straight path leading from this to modern managerial liberalism and proposals for epistocracy. Not only is it ethically dubious to talk about 'informed democracy' (as though uninformed people should be barred from voting)

...WHAT
Are you really insinuating something that dumb?
No one in their right mind would take it to mean anything else than "everyone should be fully educated to have the most benefit for everyone"
Otherwise you get a country ran by dumb pigs who don't understand politics and quickly bring everything to collapse.
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03 Dec 2017 11:03

"sounds like an hilarious and deliberately forged meaning. A basic understanding of what you are going to vote and the consequences of your choice for others in years to come should be well into possibilities of educated people, moreover they have the right to be informed and it's their duty to pursue the goal of correct information, in every democracy."

They have no such duty. The point of democracy isn't that the majority is more likely to select correct policies, it's to keep the executive branch in its place. The threat of being voted out of office limits the power of politicians - but it does not make them choose more rationally. I would say that democracy is an inherently anti-intellectual process.

"I see nothing ethical in an uninformed democracy."

It's the least unethical option we have.

"Are you really insinuating something that dumb?
No one in their right mind would take it to mean anything else than "everyone should be fully educated to have the most benefit for everyone"

That's as meaningful as saying "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Sounds rational in front of a computer screen, and is a total disaster if ever applied to real societies.

"Otherwise you get a country ran by dumb pigs who don't understand politics and quickly bring everything to collapse."

As opposed to a country run by Ivy League-educated dumb pigs, who can now cite statistics and use the endorsement of scientists to shut down opposition.
 
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03 Dec 2017 11:22

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post While he may have made contributions to science, he also popularized an egotistical, elitist version of it: "Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works."

How is that egotistical or elitist? He's saying that everyone should have an understanding of how the world works and should competent in the art of skepticism and critical thinking. He's not saying that those things should belong only to a select few, and that power should rest solely with them.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post Not only is it ethically dubious to talk about 'informed democracy'

It would say it's ethically dubious to NOT talk about informed democracy.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post (as though uninformed people should be barred from voting)

They should be.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post it's not clear what he is even referring to when he uses the word science

Of course it is, he stated on numerous occasions what science is, with little to no ambiguity.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post He tries to define it, but it's no different from Marxists asserting that 'true communism' was never implemented, because communism by definition doesn't have a state/use coercion/censor free speech.

lolwut? I'm sorry, but that's a complete non sequitur. Your argument is starting to look a bit like this train right now:
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Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post Ivy League-educated bureaucrats are not, as Sagan believed, the real heroes of society - they are no different from the astrologers and ufologists that he rails against.

When did he ever say they were the heroes of society? What are you talking about?

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post Other annoyances: he apparently thinks "if God created the universe, who created God" is a good argument against theism

He never meant it as an argument against theism, he meant it as an argument against the power of theism (or certain forms of it) to explain the origin of the cosmos.

The argument against theism itself, of course, is that there is no specific, compelling, and well-supported evidence in favor of it.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post The point of democracy isn't that the majority is more likely to select correct policies, it's to keep the executive branch in its place.

No it's not.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post It's the least unethical option we have.

No it's not.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post and is a total disaster if ever applied to real societies

...did you really just say that having a universally informed and sufficiently thoughtful populace would be a total disaster?

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post As opposed to a country run by Ivy League-educated dumb pigs, who can now cite statistics and use the endorsement of scientists to shut down opposition.

I still don't get where all of this "Ivy League" stuff is coming from, you are making absolutely zero sense.
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03 Dec 2017 12:44

Mouthwash wrote:
"sounds like an hilarious and deliberately forged meaning. A basic understanding of what you are going to vote and the consequences of your choice for others in years to come should be well into possibilities of educated people, moreover they have the right to be informed and it's their duty to pursue the goal of correct information, in every democracy."

They have no such duty. The point of democracy isn't that the majority is more likely to select correct policies, it's to keep the executive branch in its place. The threat of being voted out of office limits the power of politicians - but it does not make them choose more rationally. I would say that democracy is an inherently anti-intellectual process.

"I see nothing ethical in an uninformed democracy."

It's the least unethical option we have.

"Are you really insinuating something that dumb?
No one in their right mind would take it to mean anything else than "everyone should be fully educated to have the most benefit for everyone"

That's as meaningful as saying "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Sounds rational in front of a computer screen, and is a total disaster if ever applied to real societies.

"Otherwise you get a country ran by dumb pigs who don't understand politics and quickly bring everything to collapse."

As opposed to a country run by Ivy League-educated dumb pigs, who can now cite statistics and use the endorsement of scientists to shut down opposition.

Dude, your arguments are sounding very "pro-dictatorship extremist".

How can you consider yourself a "science communicator" when 'there's a straight path leading from' your opinion to "lol let's blindly give all the power to the ignorant and watch them destroy the world because they thought everything can be resolved with nukes"
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03 Dec 2017 14:40

"How is that egotistical or elitist? He's saying that everyone should have an understanding of how the world works and should competent in the art of skepticism and critical thinking. He's not saying that those things should belong only to a select few, and that power should rest solely with them."

But he's the patron god of every smug charlatan peddling nonsense like the food pyramid or evolutionary psychology. If many pseudoscientists adore you, you have probably done something wrong as a science communicator.

"They should be."

Who or what ought to designate who is fit to wield political power?

"Of course it is, he stated on numerous occasions what science is, with little to no ambiguity."

A Platonic ideal. A theory. Not anything that relates to how things actually work. No matter how many purported scientists and even fields you expose as frauds, Sagan can always claim that they weren't doing True Science. Just like modern-day communists can say that the universal failure of communism is because it wasn't True Communism, where everyone is equal, happy and free - the end result is literally defined as the ideology.

Sagan's definition of science is logical and consistent. It just isn't sufficient for real life, aside from narrow fields like physics.

"When did he ever say they were the heroes of society? What are you talking about?"

Who does Sagan claim practices True Science? I would say a large proportion of them are formally educated people (i.e. credentialed people, many of whom are actually frauds and are causing harm).

"He never meant it as an argument against theism, he meant it as an argument against the power of theism (or certain forms of it) to explain the origin of the cosmos."

Yes, that's what I meant, sorry. The first cause argument. His rebuttal doesn't work at all, because the whole premise of that argument is that there can't be an infinite chain of causation; therefore, we have to posit something that exists outside of causation.

"No it's not."

Well, no one sat down and 'invented' democracy from scratch, so there's no final definition I can appeal to. But I ask: why is it you think we don't directly vote on laws?

"...did you really just say that having a universally informed and sufficiently thoughtful populace would be a total disaster?"

No. My belief is that such a thing could never exist, that any attempts to make it exist would cause more harm than good, that any government/political party claiming to be this would actually be Stalinist, and that the Nash equilibrium would limit the benefits of having such a populace (since what is rational for the group is not always rational for the individual).

"I still don't get where all of this "Ivy League" stuff is coming from, you are making absolutely zero sense."

Epistocrats think education should be the key to political power. This is unfortunately somewhat true today. See: Ivy League.

"Dude, your arguments are sounding very "pro-dictatorship extremist"."

I'd love to rebut this, except for the fact that I literally have no idea what anything I've said here has in common with pro-dictatorship extremism. (I'm not the one who supports denying people the right to vote.)

"How can you consider yourself a "science communicator" when 'there's a straight path leading from' your opinion to "lol let's blindly give all the power to the ignorant and watch them destroy the world because they thought everything can be resolved with nukes"

I don't understand what you're attempting to say here.
 
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03 Dec 2017 14:53

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post evolutionary psychology

Evolutionary psychology is not pseudoscience.  How are you choosing to define pseudoscience in this case? 
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03 Dec 2017 15:38

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post But he's the patron god of every smug charlatan peddling nonsense like the food pyramid or evolutionary psychology.

...?!
Please enlighten me about how can define the food pyramid like that with a straight face.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post If many pseudoscientists adore you, you have probably done something wrong as a science communicator.

That proves JACK. This kind of scum (which "making people uneducated" is exactly what they aim to) will jump at the first perceived ambiguity they sense in the words of literally anyone.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post Who or what ought to designate who is fit to wield political power?

The people, but of course that will only work if SPOLER ALERT those same people are educated enough to know what "fit to wield political power" means and entails. Who would have known?

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post arrow fields like physics

...since when physics, the very field that studies how can we have be here, is a narrow field?

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post Who does Sagan claim practices True Science? I would say a large proportion of them are formally educated people

gee, I wonder why

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post (i.e. credentialed people, many of whom are actually frauds and are causing harm).

So you are taking the worst examples to represent all of them, good job. Also, are you saying corruption is a problem only in science environments?

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post See: Ivy League.

What I gather from a quick look on Wikipedia is that they are just some of the most prestigious universities of USA, and thattheir name is used as stereotype and name-calling by moldy conservatives :roll:

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post I'd love to rebut this, except for the fact that I literally have no idea what anything I've said here has in common with pro-dictatorship extremism. (I'm not the one who supports denying people the right to vote.)

You are saying that being smart is bad, and that instead of getting full informations on the candidates and try to choose the one that sounds more reliable, we have to pick the first buffon that comes up and pay they somehow don't screw up everything.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post I don't understand what you're attempting to say here.

Of course. Lemme rephrase:

While you are claiming to be a science communicator, you are also arguing for a really creepy idea: "Our species doesn't needs, or deserves, anything like proper thoughts, and we should just let any idiot that failed basic education to decide our destiny" There's a straight path leading from this to populism-induced dictatorship and nazism.

Also, if you to be more credible, I'd suggest you stop using as sources personal blogs where the author can rant about whatever it pleases them without check.
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03 Dec 2017 15:58

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post But he's the patron god of every smug charlatan peddling nonsense like the food pyramid or evolutionary psychology. If many pseudoscientists adore you, you have probably done something wrong as a science communicator.

So your problem with him is that a SUBSET of people that like him happen to be people that you don't like, and that automatically makes him an egotist and elitist. Got it. (Also, he is not the patron god of all of those people, again, where are you getting this from?)

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post A Platonic ideal. A theory. Not anything that relates to how things actually work. No matter how many purported scientists and even fields you expose as frauds, Sagan can always claim that they weren't doing True Science.

What are you talking about? When did Sagan do any of this? And are you suggesting that there's no such thing as science, or that science is bad or something? I'm also pretty sure now that you have no idea what Sagan said that science is.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post Epistocrats think education should be the key to political power. This is unfortunately somewhat true today. See: Ivy League.

Again, you keep saying "Ivy League" without any explanation as to its relevance. I'm beginning to believe that you don't know what the Ivy League is either.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post Well, no one sat down and 'invented' democracy from scratch, so there's no final definition I can appeal to. But I ask: why is it you think we don't directly vote on laws?

Multiple reasons, the most obvious being that it's utterly impractical (or certainly was in the 18th century when the US constitution was created). Since the rise of the internet, it actually COULD be done today. But there are other reasons, being that the average citizen doesn't understand most of the issues and implications surrounding policymaking, and (this is somewhat true today, and was very true 200 years ago) has better things to do than keep up with everything. A republic is just more sensible than a direct democracy on many levels. And despite that, there are some laws at the state and local level that are voted on directly by the electorate.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post His rebuttal doesn't work at all, because the whole premise of that argument is that there can't be an infinite chain of causation; therefore, we have to posit something that exists outside of causation.

The argument does not require that an infinite causal chain be impossible. The point he's making is that there is no logical difference between asserting that the universe always existed and asserting that the universe was created by a deity, but that deity always existed, so invoking the existence of a deity to explain the existence of the universe just moves the question back by on step and then requires the existence of the deity to be explained.

His point is that, if you say that anything that exists requires an explanation for its existence, and then posit the existence of a deity for that reason, then you're being logically inconsistent, since the deity itself requires an explanation.
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Mouthwash on Science Communication and Scientific Literacy

03 Dec 2017 18:59

Mouthwash, I think it may be helpful to have some clarification on your position.  It is clear that you have a strong dislike for Carl Sagan's manner of science communication because you view it as a form of elitism or smugness.  What I'd like to ask is if you oppose the education of the public in general matters of science altogether?  Or do you believe a scientifically literate public is a good thing, but have a different perspective on how it is best achieved?  What is your notion of an ideal science communicator?
 
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Mouthwash on Science Communication and Scientific Literacy

03 Dec 2017 19:33

I also want to say that this line-by-line format of discussion is abysmal.  If a response cannot be made without dissecting every single sentence, then the disagreement is so fundamental that both sides should step back a moment and reconsider what the disagreement is actually about, and how to engage with it.   It may be tempting and easier to respond to every single little thing, but all it does is inflate posts into ever longer posts that are more of a pain in the ass to read or reply to.

So, please try not to do that. :)
 
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Mouthwash on Science Communication and Scientific Literacy

04 Dec 2017 05:16

"Evolutionary psychology is not pseudoscience.  How are you choosing to define pseudoscience in this case?"

How anyone anywhere defines it? A "collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method."

"Please enlighten me about how can define the food pyramid like that with a straight face."

Only if you tell me how cornflakes are a more important part of the human diet than eggs, with a straight face.

"The people, but of course that will only work if SPOLER ALERT those same people are educated enough to know what "fit to wield political power" means and entails. Who would have known?"

So only those who are sufficiently informed should wield political power, but only those who are sufficiently informed can define who is sufficiently informed. No issues there.

"So you are taking the worst examples to represent all of them, good job. Also, are you saying corruption is a problem only in science environments?"

Not at all. But since these charlatans use a veneer of science and base all their claims on 'studies,' they are able to get away with much more than charlatans of previous eras. With the internet I can find a study supporting my super-hair-regrowth shampoo in seconds, and most of my customers will never be exposed to any contrary studies.

"While you are claiming to be a science communicator, you are also arguing for a really creepy idea: "Our species doesn't needs, or deserves, anything like proper thoughts, and we should just let any idiot that failed basic education to decide our destiny" There's a straight path leading from this to populism-induced dictatorship and nazism."

So that's why the entire Western intelligentsia stood united against Stalin and Mao. (Also, where did I claim to be a science communicator?)

"Also, if you to be more credible, I'd suggest you stop using as sources personal blogs where the author can rant about whatever it pleases them without check."

It isn't a 'rant,' it's an in-depth examination of what causes societies to fail at basic things despite having all the information required to do them correctly (by one of the most respected bloggers on the internet, however much that's worth).

"So your problem with him is that a SUBSET of people that like him happen to be people that you don't like, and that automatically makes him an egotist and elitist. Got it."

I would say it's the majority of people who like Sagan that are actively screwing things up today.

"What are you talking about? When did Sagan do any of this? And are you suggesting that there's no such thing as science, or that science is bad or something? I'm also pretty sure now that you have no idea what Sagan said that science is."

The real-life practice of science has cost more lives and created more suffering than any other human endeavor. And yes, I know most of these aren't True Science and Sagan never endorsed any of them - but the point remains that all these things were carried out by people just as convinced that their rationality would improve things.

"Again, you keep saying "Ivy League" without any explanation as to its relevance. I'm beginning to believe that you don't know what the Ivy League is either."


Choose a major newspaper/think tank. Count the proportion of members/columnists that went to an Ivy League university. (For the NYT I think it's only one person who didn't go.)

"Multiple reasons, the most obvious being that it's utterly impractical (or certainly was in the 18th century when the US constitution was created). Since the rise of the internet, it actually COULD be done today. But there are other reasons, being that the average citizen doesn't understand most of the issues and implications surrounding policymaking, and (this is somewhat true today, and was very true 200 years ago) has better things to do than keep up with everything. A republic is just more sensible than a direct democracy on many levels. And despite that, there are some laws at the state and local level that are voted on directly by the electorate."

Why are there term limits if the populace can be trusted to know when to elect someone out of office? Why are states represented at all?

"The argument does not require that an infinite causal chain be impossible. The point he's making is that there is no logical difference between asserting that the universe always existed and asserting that the universe was created by a deity, but that deity always existed, so invoking the existence of a deity to explain the existence of the universe just moves the question back by on step and then requires the existence of the deity to be explained."

But that's a strawman. The whole point of the argument is that the universe isn't sufficient as an explanation for why anything exists. It clearly differentiates between the natural world and the unmoved mover.

"Mouthwash, I think it may be helpful to have some clarification on your position.  It is clear that you have a strong dislike for Carl Sagan's manner of science communication because you view it as a form of elitism or smugness."

I think the intelligentsia in general cause more harm than good, and that Sagan's philosophy of abstract rationality makes them ever more self-assured. But I don't have a problem with 'organic' intellectuals (i.e. people who are seriously involved with what they study and have skin in their game. Trade union organizers, local historians, clergy, etc).

"What I'd like to ask is if you oppose the education of the public in general matters of science altogether?"

A basic knowledge of how things around them work is always good. But yes, I think general education is impossible to have for non-elites, and should be discarded in favor of practical, skill-based education. (Did you enjoy spending half your childhood in public school learning things you literally never used in any capacity afterwards? I sure didn't.)

"So, please try not to do that."

i'm sorry, but I'm not sure how it could be avoided or how I could reasonably respond to half the points made otherwise. Every other forum I've been on worked this way.
 
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Mouthwash on Science Communication and Scientific Literacy

04 Dec 2017 06:18

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post The real-life practice of science has cost more lives and created more suffering than any other human endeavor.

Mouthwash wrote:
Source of the post But yes, I think general education is impossible to have for non-elites, and should be discarded in favor of practical, skill-based education.

Image

That, combined with the fact that you clearly aren't reading and understanding what's being written to you (as your most recent comments on democracy and creationism demonstrate) means that there is simply no foundation for continued discussion. There would be no point. I'm done.
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