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Weird Science Speculators: What to Do?


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I realize weird science has been practiced since prehistory. Alchemy led to chemistry. Newton was an alchemist who made real scientific discoveries. Thus, weird science speculators aren't necessarily so delusional they should be restrained in a mental ward. On the other hand, it drives me nuts for someone who has the benefit of modern education and the internet to reject learning and try to convince me and other educated people they have discovered free energy or whatever.

 

I believe that everyone should be treated with kindness, but weird science speculators frustrate me and make me to want to throttle them. evil.gifredface.gif I think some must have ADHD because they are so persistent in spite of many posts that contradict their pseudoscience.

 

frown.gif Is it more kind to ignore them, or is it better to argue with them to try to educate them. I need some advice about, "What to do?"

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Well, if it's somewhat interesting to me, I might engage in an argument, like if someone is proposing a "perpetuum mobile".

I like to go through it and see the mistakes, if I can, of course.

 

But, sometimes the question is so obviously wrong that I ignore it, since the one who posted it obviosly doesn't understand the basics.

 

I wish people would be more rational and sceptical.

Edited by l07971
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Alchemy is forgivable up until the point that Chemistry is established as valid. The problem with much of crackpot science is that it's simply wrong, and demonstrably so, but the proponents simply ignore the evidence that contradicts them. (Their lack of familiarity with the science they are bucking is typically frightful, as well)

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  • 2 months later...

Make it easily differentiable for them- when you're debating someone- the difference between you attacking their beliefs, as opposed to you attacking them personally. If you've been careful to do this, and they still get offended, then there's not much more you can do really, and if they get offended, so be it. The truth is always more important.

Edited by Iota
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Why do people not listening, paying attention, understanding or agreeing to your point of view frustrate you in the first place? "You" not necessarily meaning EdEarl but anyone who feels this kind of frustration (the many debates about crackpots indicate this is a common phenomenon). It's not that we are talking about politics where people's opinions have an actual effect.

 

The question isn't meant as being cynical, btw. I sometimes tend to be a bit frustrated, myself. And I couldn't really put my finger on the "why". It's certainly not that I feel responsible for correcting wrong things other people claim on the Internet. And I would be lying if I claimed that I want to help poor crackpot souls. It may be the childishness of some of the claims that makes me connect - and then become frustrated because the child-me doesn't understand what the adult-me is saying. Or in other words: The irritation caused by being put back into a situation where you have been without being able to move into the direction you believe to be the correct one.

 

On the question: You should probably not spend too much time doing things that frustrate you.

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Why do people not listening, paying attention, understanding or agreeing to your point of view frustrate you in the first place? "You" not necessarily meaning EdEarl but anyone who feels this kind of frustration (the many debates about crackpots indicate this is a common phenomenon). It's not that we are talking about politics where people's opinions have an actual effect.

 

The question isn't meant as being cynical, btw. I sometimes tend to be a bit frustrated, myself. And I couldn't really put my finger on the "why". It's certainly not that I feel responsible for correcting wrong things other people claim on the Internet. And I would be lying if I claimed that I want to help poor crackpot souls. It may be the childishness of some of the claims that makes me connect - and then become frustrated because the child-me doesn't understand what the adult-me is saying. Or in other words: The irritation caused by being put back into a situation where you have been without being able to move into the direction you believe to be the correct one.

 

On the question: You should probably not spend too much time doing things that frustrate you.

The important issue is how misconceptions of science can affect school curriculum. At least in the US, school curriculum has been under attack by people who, although meaning well, are trying to get schools to teach non-science. A number of cases have gone to the supreme court, which invariably stops the non-science. To avoid the controversy, schools avoid teaching subjects that may generate a law suit. As a result, students may not get a high quality science education. It is a tragedy to under educate children in science, when they live in a culture in which knowing science is important for getting good jobs.

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I remember reading at one point that, "A Crank is defined as a man who cannot be turned."

 

If someone is willing to consider changing their views, there is hope, otherwise there is no point in discussion.

 

Depending on my mood sometimes I'll keep trying to get through. Other times I just sit back and enjoy the show as their horribly mistaken theory is demolished.

 

I kind of miss my game forums where I could prove people wrong via demonstration. Nothing like screwing with the calculated average wage of the country to drive a point home.

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The important issue is how misconceptions of science can affect school curriculum. At least in the US, school curriculum has been under attack by people who, although meaning well, are trying to get schools to teach non-science. A number of cases have gone to the supreme court, which invariably stops the non-science. To avoid the controversy, schools avoid teaching subjects that may generate a law suit. As a result, students may not get a high quality science education. It is a tragedy to under educate children in science, when they live in a culture in which knowing science is important for getting good jobs.

 

See that's something that I just don't understand. Why does everything have to be politically correct here in the US? Everyone is so worried about offending someone else that they forget that knowledge is the important thing for growing children/teens/adults/everyone. I don't remember people being this PC when I was growing up. The really funny part about that was that, although I went to a private Catholic elementary/middle/high school (until my sophomore year), we were taught in depth about evolution, BBT, Natural Selection, and countless other scientific principles that many would view as blasphemy by religious zealots.

 

In regards to your OP, if someone is being aggressively ignorant despite your efforts to present material in a calm and well organized nature, let them remain ignorant. They have no intention of seeing things from a different vantage point. If they want to keep blinders on that's their decision. Just be there to show them what it is if/when they choose to listen.

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See that's something that I just don't understand. Why does everything have to be politically correct here in the US? Everyone is so worried about offending someone else that they forget that knowledge is the important thing for growing children/teens/adults/everyone. I don't remember people being this PC when I was growing up. The really funny part about that was that, although I went to a private Catholic elementary/middle/high school (until my sophomore year), we were taught in depth about evolution, BBT, Natural Selection, and countless other scientific principles that many would view as blasphemy by religious zealots.

 

In regards to your OP, if someone is being aggressively ignorant despite your efforts to present material in a calm and well organized nature, let them remain ignorant. They have no intention of seeing things from a different vantage point. If they want to keep blinders on that's their decision. Just be there to show them what it is if/when they choose to listen.

I consider PC as insignificant compared to the attack on the educational system. For example, school boards have tried to prevent teaching evolution and instead teach creationism. That didn't work, so now they want both taught, but that isn't working either. Nonetheless, they continue trying. Moreover, there are reported to be about 25% of biology teachers in the US that do not believe in evolution.

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Isn't evolution a little bit fundamental to everything we know about biology, genetics, life, etc? Don't answer that. Meant to rhetorical. And the reason that there's even a dent being made with creationism into evolution is because people are to PC oriented, worrying about how society will view them for trying to teach what is observable, not what is taught in a religion.

 

Like I said, this really confuses me. Maybe it's just the Archdiocese of Indianapolis (Catholic governing body of Indiana, simply put) that is forward thinking enough to allow and promote the teaching of evolution in science classrooms. In school, we had a religion class everyday that would cover matters pertaining to the Bible. However, stuff outside of the religion, stuff that was pertaining to real world experiences, etc, those were handled as they should be handled in school and was kept separate from religion.

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Isn't evolution a little bit fundamental to everything we know about biology, genetics, life, etc? Don't answer that. Meant to rhetorical. And the reason that there's even a dent being made with creationism into evolution is because people are to PC oriented, worrying about how society will view them for trying to teach what is observable, not what is taught in a religion.

 

Like I said, this really confuses me. Maybe it's just the Archdiocese of Indianapolis (Catholic governing body of Indiana, simply put) that is forward thinking enough to allow and promote the teaching of evolution in science classrooms. In school, we had a religion class everyday that would cover matters pertaining to the Bible. However, stuff outside of the religion, stuff that was pertaining to real world experiences, etc, those were handled as they should be handled in school and was kept separate from religion.

The Catholic Church resisted science centuries ago on issues like the heliocentric model of the Universe (Earth orbits the Sun), and has lately refrained from criticizing science and burning people at the stake. Not all religious people are as enlightened as the Catholic Church is today. IMO most scientists would prefer to study nature and report what they see without being dragged into a religious discussion. I have said enough about this issue.

 

I accept your definition and use of PC.

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Generally my favorite part of these discussions is asking them to provide the math to back up their claims and watching them stumble all over themselves trying to explain that math doesn't matter.

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I kind of view this forum as something of an educational tool, and an outreach platform for people who are knowledgeable about science to interact with people who are curious about science. A lot of readers who wind up on these boards are not the active participants, but people who have come to a particular thread via Google.

 

For that end, I think it's at least important to point out the flaws in a crackpot argument, even if 9/10 crackpots ignore or dismiss genuine flaws in their proposals. I think it becomes obvious quite quickly, for a cognizant and open minded reader when someone is failing to address the criticisms of their position, and hopefully casual readers will see the flaws in such arguments by witnessing such discourses. On the other hand, I've given up on several occasions when someone repeatedly refuses to engage logically, or address critiques, and continues to engage in illogical discourse or repetition of fallacies, etc. and I think that's where reporting and leaving it up to the mods to address is the right action.

 

One tactic I personally find particularly frustrating is the "wall of text copypasta" where a large body of text is lifted, like a essay, or a an extensive irrelevant reference list, etc. where refuting every single argument in the post would take considerable time and effort, but the poster refuses to accept any validity to a partial refutation - or simply responds with another copied wall of poor argumentation and effectively tries to "baffle the forum with BS". That particular style of debate is very time consuming and frustrating to deal with, and tends to, at least in my mind, refute itself by proxy - even if that in of itself isn't logically flawless.

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For some people, science is a definite interest but they didn't connect it together with the math in school, or they didn't study with the passion necessary for a comprehensive approach to the methodology. Or they just went into the arts or business but kept up an interest in popular science. That was me 30 years ago in high school.

 

Sometimes those folks pick up on something that doesn't fit the pattern, and because they don't have the nuts and bolts knowledge, they think they've stumbled onto something others have missed. They love science and they'd love to help it advance but they don't have the time to put into going back and starting from scratch with the basics in science education.

 

That's usually when they start justifying why they don't need math to understand physics and cosmology (this is where I parted ways with that crowd - this is when the crazy gets you). Their "theories" are intuitive (uncluttered with math), they're beautiful (cherry-picked), and they have that intangible quality that lures the new crackpot into thinking, "Sure, this means I'm disagreeing with thousands of brilliant people who have spent their lives devoted to science, and there do seem to be large parts of reality that don't agree with me either, but the more you tell me I'm wrong the more I know I'm onto something!"

 

I think it's akin to winning the lottery. You put in a little effort and expect a huge reward. The crackpot and the lottery winner both feel justified in skipping over all that tedious hard work ("Hey, I've been thinking about my theory for a YEAR!") and claiming the huge prize that has eluded everyone else. So I guess when we discuss their "theories" and start shooting holes in them, the crackpot sees us trying to take away their lottery ticket.

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One of the problems is the science they have learned is from pop-sci works, and they think this is sufficient. But, to paraphrase a great bit I read recently, learning about science is not the same thing as learning science.

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