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Being open minded


Pete
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I've been curious about this lately so I wanted to ask a question for the folks here.

 

Who among you consider themselves to be open-minded physicists? For those who consider themselves to be open-minded can you think of a concrete example? Please explain what it means to you for a physicists to be open minded? Thank you all in advance.

 

Pete

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It is not quite so simple as using a standard dictionary as they are not written with scientific ideas and methods in mind.

 

I am certainly open minded in the sense of swansont.

Edited by ajb
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It is not quite so simple as using a standard dictionary as they are not written with scientific ideas and methods in mind.

I don't believe that is the case here. The dictionary defines open minded as receptive to arguments or ideas which seems quite accurate to me.

I am certainly open minded in the sense of swansont.

What sense is that?
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Well, then: I am a physicist. I am open minded by your definition. Example: I was receptive to the new idea of quantum mechanics up to the point that I passed the quantum mechanics exam. I would claim this statement applies to pretty much every physicist.

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Taken in context, being open-minded in science is a willingness to be shown a new path that may lead to a new destination, or provide a better route to a familiar place. But no scientist should ever allow themselves to be blindfolded while their guide drags them along extolling the virtues of the new path.

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"Open minded" needs to be defined.

OK then:

 

 

Having or showing receptiveness to new and different ideas or the opinions of others.

All scientists need to be receptive to new ideas. The problem is that all new ideas in science are not created equal. The dictionary definition doesn't distinguish between being open-minded and being a fool.

 

 

the opposite of skeptical, i.e. acceptance of hypotheses without any valid evidence or rigor.

That's the problem. Crackpots ask (demand!) that scientists accept their ideas without any rigor such as mathematics to justify those ideas or any evidence that support their ideas, and even to ignore evidence that flat-out falsifies their ideas. At this forum we have seen people trying to proclaim that pi is rational (sorry, no), that "Newton is wrong" (we already know that), that we didn't land on the Moon (yes, we did), that evolution doesn't happen (yes, it does). Being open-minded does not mean I should be stupid.

 

 

This is a much better definition, in my somewhat open mind:

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
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What sense is that?

 

What I mean is that open mindedness should not be synonymous with accepting all ideas and proposals without examining their merit.

 

Thus, I expect all scientists to say they are open minded to new ideas provided they are scientific and presented with the necessary thought.

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Open mindedness is a different place than closed mindedness. The difference has to do with amount of fixed structuring in the mind. To be totally open minded you can't to much fixed structure that is carved in stone. The structure has to be softer and more pliable to accommodate adding new content.

 

Open mindedness requires a more fluid mind structure and while close mindedness has a solid mind structure. If try to add something to an existing solid, they don't blend without heating. The coolness of closed mindedness prevents the needed heating. With open mindedness more like a fluid, things can dissolve at any temperature, with things dissolving more upon heating. You can still be cool to prevent too much uptake, but some always sinks in.

 

This might be correlated to the ratio of long term and short term memory, with long term more solid and short term more fluid.

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Use a dictionary

 

Not good enough unless somehow I'm assured that everyone is using the dictionary, and as scientists we generally realize that scientific and lay definitions are not synonymous. By defining it, one avoids the possibility of another poster coming along and playing the equivocation "gotcha" or derailing the discussion.

 

So let's start with Aristotle's definition that D H has provided. That you can entertain a thought without accepting it; acceptance requires valid evidence to be presented.

 

In that sense I think most scientists are open-minded.

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Pete, what's your idea of an 'open minded' physicist.

 

Personally I think it's a loaded question, however, I tend to think being 'open minded' is accepting what logic and experiment dishes out, regardless of how counter intuitive it is.

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Who among you consider themselves to be open-minded physicists? For those who consider themselves to be open-minded can you think of a concrete example? Please explain what it means to you for a physicists to be open minded? Thank you all in advance.

 

I consider myself open-minded when it comes to physics, or science in general. For example, I've repeatedly tried to disprove the second law of thermodynamics, inevitably learning something useful in the process. I am open-minded but skeptical.

 

Aristotle: It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

 

I like this definition as well. It quite accurately describes my attitude when trying to disprove the second law of thermodynamics, despite knowing that what I was most likely to find was a misconception I've been living with.

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Open mindedness is a different place than closed mindedness. The difference has to do with amount of fixed structuring in the mind. To be totally open minded you can't to much fixed structure that is carved in stone. The structure has to be softer and more pliable to accommodate adding new content.

 

Open mindedness requires a more fluid mind structure and while close mindedness has a solid mind structure. If try to add something to an existing solid, they don't blend without heating. The coolness of closed mindedness prevents the needed heating. With open mindedness more like a fluid, things can dissolve at any temperature, with things dissolving more upon heating. You can still be cool to prevent too much uptake, but some always sinks in.

 

This might be correlated to the ratio of long term and short term memory, with long term more solid and short term more fluid.

pioneer, do you type in one language, use a translator to convert to another language, and then have *that* translated into English?
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What I mean is that open mindedness should not be synonymous with accepting all ideas and proposals without examining their merit.

The later is not what being open-minded means. Only crackpots use the term in that sense and I don't tend to define terms with crackpots in mind.

Pete' date=' what's your idea of an 'open minded' physicist.

[/quote']

No. Its not a loaded question. However it did come to mind when someone suggested that my posts might be edited to delete ULS I post if I cease to stop talking about my opinion on the definition of mass. I was curious how someone could demand such a thing from me and still consider themselves to be open-minded. Mind you, the person who said that never suggested that I make a case for my opinion. I guess he assumed that he heard all possible arguements and thus I must be one of those people who have poor arguements.

 

Not good enough ...
I'm curious was to why you think it needs to be defined. Have you never heard or used this term before?

 

One merely uses common sense when answering this question. One does not need a dictionary to have a conversation in most cases and I believe that this is one of those cases where none is needed. I E-mailed two physicists friends of mine and each of them knew exactly what one means when speaking of being open minded. Many books refers to the idea that scientists should be open minded and I don't recall one of them needing to define it. And Aristotle's comment does not contradict what one normally considers to be open minded.

Edited by Pete
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I'm curious was to why you think it needs to be defined. Have you never heard or used this term before?

 

Because without the definition, your question would be ambiguous. Don't worry about it now, though, as we already agreed upon a definition. If it is not the definition you wanted, you lost your chance.

 

pioneer, do you type in one language, use a translator to convert to another language, and then have *that* translated into English?

 

I think an adequate explanation of pioneer's unique posts can be found here:

http://www.scienceforums.net/forum/showthread.php?p=353426#post353426

 

Pioneer, if you want, I'm sure the mods could put your old nickname (mercury man) in the parenthesis after your posts where it currently says (molecule).

Edited by Mr Skeptic
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Because without the definition, your question would be ambiguous.

I'm not saying that a definition is not neccesary. I'm saying that the definition is that what one normally means by "open minded." I'm sure you've heard this term, haven't you? Have you ever known there to be two different meanings to it? This is a commonly used term and already has a well-known definition and I was asking why swansont thinks it needs to be defined.

 

There are many terms which really do need to be defined. For example; were you aware that when the author of a QM text uses the term "momentum" he doesn't mean what everyone else does (i.e. mechanical momentum). He is referring to canonical momentum. That is something rarely mentioned in QM texts but its important to keep in mind, especially since they are spelled exactly the same.

Don't worry about it now, though, as we already agreed upon a definition. If it is not the definition you wanted, you lost your chance.

Lost my chance at what?

Edited by Pete
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Pete, this is a science forum, when we ask for something to be defined it is because there are several possible definitions and there is some doubt as to which is to be used. if this is the case it must be defined EXPLICITLY not just assumed that everybody knows it. especially as there are people who do not have english as their first language that visit these forums.

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Pete. Greetings.

As you can see the thread has become derailed into a discussion on semantics. I'm joining that derailment (from one of the rear coaches), but I hope you will take my remarks positively - with an open mind :) - even though they may seem a bit acerbic.

I'm saying that the definition is that what one normally means by "open minded."
Who is one? I can link you to discussions on other sites where it is clear that there is more than one one.
Have you ever known there to be two different meanings to it?
Frequently, if not always.
This is a commonly used term and already has a well-known definition .....
Then tell us what you think that is. If yu had done so when first asked we could have avoided the derailment.
.....I was asking why swansont thinks it needs to be defined.
I hope you now see that the definition is necessary to remove pre-existing ambiguity.
Lost my chance at what?
At defining it in terms of what you understand it to mean.

 

I have to say Pete, on this thread, in regard to the need for defining open mindedness, you appear to have a closed mind. ;)

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I'm curious was to why you think it needs to be defined. Have you never heard or used this term before?

 

On the contrary, I have heard the term, and I've seen it used in different ways. And I've already given my example of how the term is misused

 

One merely uses common sense when answering this question. One does not need a dictionary to have a conversation in most cases and I believe that this is one of those cases where none is needed. I E-mailed two physicists friends of mine and each of them knew exactly what one means when speaking of being open minded. Many books refers to the idea that scientists should be open minded and I don't recall one of them needing to define it. And Aristotle's comment does not contradict what one normally considers to be open minded.

 

Emailing specific people is different than posing a question on a discussion board that has the occasional crank show up, eager to stir the pot. Ironic, because they, too are often reticent to define terms in hopes of generating a flurry of discussion.

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Pete, this is a science forum, when we ask for something to be defined it is because there are several possible definitions and there is some doubt as to which is to be used.
Of course I understand why someone would ask a poster to define a term they used since, as you say, that may very well be the case and that's perfectly understandable.

 

Recall that I provided a definition when one was requested. Unfortunately that was not enough since people kept making invalid assumptions regarding my comments. E.g. you and Mr Skeptic assumed that I didn't understand why somone might ask for a definiton. Can we now drop this definition thing and stay with the original question. I'm not interested in discussing the definition myself. Thanks.

 

I have to say Pete, on this thread, in regard to the need for defining open mindedness, you appear to have a closed mind. ;)

That's nonsense. I hope you weren't serious since you are clearly using the term incorrectly. Didn't you read swansont's definition? In this case being closed minded would mean that I would not care about the reaons for posting a definition. That is clearly not the case. I was interested in the reasons. I considered them and in the end I disagreed with them.

 

Emailing specific people is different than posing a question on a discussion board that has the occasional crank show up, eager to stir the pot. Ironic, because they, too are often reticent to define terms in hopes of generating a flurry of discussion.

I disagree. I was giving an example of this term being understood without needing a dictionary. When the crackpots show up they should be corrected on the fly since they don't care what the actual definition is. Being crackpots they are going to disagree with the definition regardless of where it comes from.
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