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The public opinion of science

  1. superwags profile image81
    superwagsposted 5 years ago

    I am from a scietific background and am generally trusting of the scientific peer reiew system for advancing our knowledge as a species. However, increasingly I think there is a lack of connection, understanding and, more alarmingly, denial of science by the public.

    This runs the whole spectrum of science; from relatively benign things like nutritional medicine, but right through to the really scarey extreme which includes AIDS denialism.

    Evolution is obviously a hotly debated topic, but this can mainly be put down, I think, to entrenched religious beliefs, rather than an intellegent argument of the science. Other topics include global warming, a process for which we have many thousands of peices of evidence, anti-vaccination and anti-pharmaseutics generally.

    Though you can feel free to debate any of those topics mentioned or others; I'm more interested in the feeling of people as to the root cause of this willful ignorance of good science in favour of unsubstansiated nonesense. I think it has to do with a lack of engagement from the scientific community, the apparent remoteness and complexness of the topics in peer reviewed publications and the ludacris idea that everybody's opinion should hold equal merit in a debate on any subject.

    Thoughts please!

    1. Evan G Rogers profile image83
      Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      It's because schools teach for tests, not for understanding.

      "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" should be required reading throughout all science schools.

      I never got into the math of science (i solved acceleration problems using algebra!), but I can tell you what's happening when you look outside better than most people with physics degrees.

      1. superwags profile image81
        superwagsposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        But it wouldn't cause you to ignore the best scientific advice on something serious though, would it? Though I can see why it causes a disconnection between taught topics and application.

        I haven't read it but I'll check it out. The kind of counter-intuitive things Feynman taught in, there's no wonder they thought he was joking!

        Bad Science by Ben Goldacre is a good book for some of the medical examples in the question; everything from herbal remedies to AIDS denial.

        1. Evan G Rogers profile image83
          Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          Feynman, in at least one chapter, discusses how people who study for tests are able to tell you all about "random event in the world #57", but when they see it right before their eyes, they aren't able to understand that what they are seeing is what was on the test.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fzg1CU8t … re=related

  2. Dale Nelson profile image31
    Dale Nelsonposted 5 years ago

    Hi Superwags,

    You have posed many questions in your statement.
    My father in law lectures science students and we have had many interesting discussions regarding evolution which i shall not repeat as they are merely our own opinions.

    The gist of most of the discussion centers around being able to provide the information at an early age to younger students, allowing them to form an opinion on their own. It would be a little late to try and change ones opinion with publications that profess to have new discoveries and proof contrary to ones beliefs.

    This goes back to the evolution versus creationism debate as well as the teaching thereof in the school system. Now there's a tough debate. Do you think evolution should be part of the science syllabus at schools.

    There is a public distrust for science when you consider what science is linked to in the tabloids like stem cell research and cloning.

    So, my answer would be that it is not due to the complexity of issues discussed in peer-reviewed publications, but the aims of the scientists themselves to search only for that which is in contradiction to theosophy and religious persons the world over.

    If their skills were put to technological break-through, then I would have a different opinion on their work. Messing with nature in any form does not bode well in my book.

    My two cents worth.

    1. superwags profile image81
      superwagsposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Well I agree with you in so far as the tabloids do help to polarise and report extreme cases (I would too, if I wanted the readership figures).

      The whole point of science is for technological breakthrough, that's effectively what science is! "Messing around with nature" may help many millions of people to feed themselves in the future and save many lives in medical advances surely?

      And yes, of course I think evolution should be taught in schools as it's the basis of biologicl systems - how else would you teach biology, zoology, medicine, pharmacy, genetics, taxonomy, paleantology, biotechnology, microbiology, ecology etc?!!

      My solution to the creation vs evolution debate is to teach the former in church and not in schools.

  3. rebekahELLE profile image91
    rebekahELLEposted 5 years ago

      I like the way you phrased this willful ignorance.. I think ignorance comes from lack of knowledge/instruction and fear. People don't want to consider scientific studies out of fear that it may actually refute their own beliefs. It's really like anyone who is in denial of anything, I think the root cause is fear, sometimes it's dressed up like pride.

    I watched Apollo 13 last night and thought how fortunate we were to have dedicated rocket scientists that were able to think quickly and methodically to bring the astronauts home alive.

  4. Cagsil profile image83
    Cagsilposted 5 years ago

    The public opinion of science-

    Ironically, 2/3 of the world is religious in some manner, so common knowledge of science from the religious community who isn't part of the educate elite, are too dumbfounded to grasp all of science to begin with.

    Thus, when someone comes along and tells them something in the most basic understanding, they still won't listen.

    In America, facts are viewed as what an individual can prove and that specific view is a detriment to society's survival, as a whole, yet no one is actually paying attention.

    Therefore, the entire extinction of the human species could happen from one action, and most of the planet gets destroyed, while 75% or all of the human species is wiped out.

    An interesting thought.....kind like death itself- comes at a time when you least expect it. Oh well. hmm