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  #1  
Old 01-29-2011, 10:22 AM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

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  #2  
Old 01-29-2011, 10:58 AM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Thule AFB temperature

here is the site to go to for a sample of daily artic temperature readings. Thule AFB, Greenland.

http://weather.noaa.gov/weather/current/BGTL.html

currently it is -19 american.
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  #3  
Old 01-29-2011, 11:43 AM
fred66 fred66 is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

Regarding the climate skeptics, I have no idea how these people get so much airtime, or credibility. It's unusual for interest groups with so little credibility to gain so much traction. I can only assume it's because of the significant financial interests that like to have that particular message heard. An American congressional committee interviewed Monckton for Gods sake. May as well have asked Lady Gaga what she thinks.
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  #4  
Old 01-29-2011, 11:53 AM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Thule AFB temperature

Quote:
Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
here is the site to go to for a sample of daily artic temperature readings. Thule AFB, Greenland.

http://weather.noaa.gov/weather/current/BGTL.html

currently it is -19 american.
Hey, Steve! Here's something from the same channel.

Look at the maps with the red and blue dots halfway through the page.
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  #5  
Old 01-29-2011, 11:59 AM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

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Originally Posted by fred66 View Post
Regarding the climate skeptics, I have no idea how these people get so much airtime, or credibility. It's unusual for interest groups with so little credibility to gain so much traction. I can only assume it's because of the significant financial interests that like to have that particular message heard. An American congressional committee interviewed Monckton for Gods sake. May as well have asked Lady Gaga what she thinks.
there is nothing Americans can do to stop global warming. Whether it is caused by the Sun or by CO2 emissions. Democrats want to control people. The tea party ticks them off because those people have the nerve to tell the goverment to FO. As Rahm Emanuael says, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Democrats see global warming as the vector with which to raise taxes on energy usage.
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  #6  
Old 01-29-2011, 12:05 PM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Re: Thule AFB temperature

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Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Hey, Steve! Here's something from the same channel.

Look at the maps with the red and blue dots halfway through the page.
I don't trust establishment scientists. They make stuff up. That is how they get more money. Think of the number of children the democrats killed by making up the connection between vacines and autism.

Still waiting for evolution believers to credibly explain why humans are the only animals in the history of the earth to have evolved intelligence.
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  #7  
Old 01-29-2011, 12:08 PM
harkin harkin is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

'Climate skeptic becomes NM's energy secretary' in the topics.

'Climate skeptic' in the posts.

Would somebody please point out the folks skeptical that climate exists?

And how does this reconcile with an earlier comment from John and George's dialogue that students skeptical of AGW were on the whole more informed?


From one of the links:

"Schmitt said there are individuals. "and a fairly large number, who ... captured the environmental movement and turned it into what previously was considered the communist movement." "

I guess many were not aware that Pres Obama tried to make a communist into his Green Jobs Czar.
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  #8  
Old 01-29-2011, 12:17 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Evolution untrue?

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Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
Still waiting for evolution believers to credibly explain why humans are the only animals in the history of the earth to have evolved intelligence.
It makes sense to me. We are simply the first to evolve a high level of intelligence. Other animals do have some lesser amounts of intelligence.

What is your explanation?

Last edited by Simon Willard; 01-29-2011 at 12:33 PM..
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  #9  
Old 01-29-2011, 12:42 PM
harkin harkin is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

From John's article:

"Don't always believe what scientists tell you. Be skeptical."

much later he says:

"But as the semester unfolded, many students' skepticism intensified, and manifested itself in ways that dismayed me. Cecelia, a biomedical-engineering major, wrote: "I am skeptical of the methods used to collect data on climate change, the analysis of this data, and the predictions made based on this data." My lectures and assignments apparently were encouraging Cecelia and others to doubt human-induced global warming, even though I had assured them it has overwhelming empirical support."

John is dismayed at the healthy skepticism required of all thinking persons because it goes against one of his core causes/beliefs.

How does he deal with this? Does he ask her to provide details as to why the data collection, analysis and predictions may be suspect? Does he encourage a more in-depth exploration of the issue? Does he discuss Al Gore's AA winning film that became required school viewing and the proven untruths regarding analysis and predictions contained therein? How about the same for UN climate reports? Does he differentiate the science he trusts from the proven charaltans in the science community who have actively encouraged fraud, bad science, supression and strong-arming to silence AGW skeptics?

No, he just was dismayed, as he had aleady "assured them it has overwhelming empirical support". In other words "trust me and others who know better".

Not a very valid response from an academic.
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  #10  
Old 01-29-2011, 12:57 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

Nice conversation revisiting topics that have been covered before. The most radical forms of skepticism end up creating a dead end. Even when we entertain the idea that ultimately there's nothing completely knowable, we can still reach an agreement about how to consider something reasonably knowable. As long as we apply exact, strict rules (such as the scientific method), shared by all, there's a possibility of progress. It may be legitimate to question the validity of theoretical ideas which are not testable at the present time. It's possible that people may get confused between those discoveries that are in more solid ground due to empirical evidence, and ideas that belong to theoretical speculation. Ultimately it is the scientists' and those who propagate their ideas, responsibility to make sure there's a distinction between what's accepted knowledge and speculation.

John seemed to have a bit of a fit about scientists indulging in cutting edge speculation while we face so many practical problems in the world. I don't think we need to point out to him how those two facts of life aren't directly related, and that if one is to look around there's plenty of other extremely more trivial and detrimental activities that people engage in while we have so many problems already. I wouldn't pick the advancement of science, even in its wild theoretical realm, as the natural adversary to solving our global problems (war, famine, climate change, health, poverty, etc.) So, my advice to John is, sit still, give a few deep breaths, and reason will return to you.
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  #11  
Old 01-29-2011, 01:29 PM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Re: Evolution untrue?

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Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
It makes sense to me. We are simply the first to evolve a high level of intelligence. Other animals do have some lesser amounts of intelligence.
that implies that other species are also evolving increased intelligence over time. that humans have only evolved increased intelligence at a faster rate. Is there evidence that squirrels or dolphins are smarter today than they were 10 million years ago? Is the 21st century squirrel smarter in regard to crossing the road than one back in 1970?

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Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
What is your explanation?
Don't know. I definitely don't rule God out of the process, however.
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  #12  
Old 01-29-2011, 02:00 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

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Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Nice conversation revisiting topics that have been covered before. The most radical forms of skepticism end up creating a dead end. Even when we entertain the idea that ultimately there's nothing completely knowable, we can still reach an agreement about how to consider something reasonably knowable. As long as we apply exact, strict rules (such as the scientific method), shared by all, there's a possibility of progress. It may be legitimate to question the validity of theoretical ideas which are not testable at the present time. It's possible that people may get confused between those discoveries that are in more solid ground due to empirical evidence, and ideas that belong to theoretical speculation. Ultimately it is the scientists' and those who propagate their ideas, responsibility to make sure there's a distinction between what's accepted knowledge and speculation.

John seemed to have a bit of a fit about scientists indulging in cutting edge speculation while we face so many practical problems in the world. I don't think we need to point out to him how those two facts of life aren't directly related, and that if one is to look around there's plenty of other extremely more trivial and detrimental activities that people engage in while we have so many problems already. I wouldn't pick the advancement of science, even in its wild theoretical realm, as the natural adversary to solving our global problems (war, famine, climate change, health, poverty, etc.) So, my advice to John is, sit still, give a few deep breaths, and reason will return to you.
I appreciate John's feelings to an extent, although I think the complaint that there are so many problems so much closer at hand than what's addressed by string theory or many-worlds or whatever is kind of a canard. In the late ninteenth century people were still making similar complaints about atomic theory - that is, it's "theoretically impossible" to "see" atoms, and so there was no reason to waste time and resources on what was, by definition, a fruitless line of inquiry. Of course, Boltzmann and Einstein, among others, provided the theoretical framework that led not only to a valid atomic theory, but to a completely new foundation for physical theories in the twentieth century.

It's important to keep an open mind. Questions of the sort that John raises regarding these things are a deeply important aspect of maintaining that open mind. But it's also important to understand that a priori assertions in regard to the nature of what it's possible to observe are always open to contradiction. Today's nonsense can turn out to be tomorrow's foundational physics.
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  #13  
Old 01-29-2011, 03:52 PM
Starwatcher162536 Starwatcher162536 is offline
 
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Default ..and around and around we go

Quote:
And how does this reconcile with an earlier comment from John and George's dialogue that students skeptical of AGW were on the whole more informed?
I agree the mean knowledge level of the skeptics* is higher then it is for the general populace. Presumably this is because the skeptics have given at least a cursory look at the data and found something that was in their mind not rigorous** or somehow flawed while a significant fraction of the general populace simply takes it on faith the academic/scientific community knows what they are doing, much like they do on a variety of other matters. So what? As your sample gradually shrinks to only include increasingly informed people this phenomenon lessens. By the time you get to the set of people that could say, pass an atmospheric physics test, those that hold a consensus-like view significantly outnumber the skeptics.

*Might be worth noting I rarely give this term out. To qualify as a skeptic in my universe requires a certain prerequisite of knowledge that most skeptical of AGW do not, in my judgment, meet.

**Climate Science kind of reminds me of old-school NASA. You really aren't sure how many of your components will react to the extremes of space so you build in several alternative systems as redundancy. Alot of Climate Science is kind of sloppy, but it's hard to imagine the overall hypothesis being severely altered as everything is looked at by a variety of groups using differing methodologies.

***I recall John was somewhat flabbergasted the the group of engineering students his sample was composed of was skeptical of AGW. This is not terribly surprising. Perhaps to the average liberal arts major both engineering students and those qualified to discuss AGW are both so far above them that they can't tell the difference between the two, but there really is a gulf between them. It turns out knowing how to use phasor arithmetic or a Smith chart really isn't that useful when going through the text Principles of Planetary Climate. Trust me.

Quote:
How does he deal with this? Does he ask her to provide details as to why the data collection, analysis and predictions may be suspect? Does he encourage a more in-depth exploration of the issue? Does he discuss Al Gore's AA winning film that became required school viewing and the proven untruths regarding analysis and predictions contained therein? How about the same for UN climate reports? Does he differentiate the science he trusts from the proven charaltans in the science community who have actively encouraged fraud, bad science, supression and strong-arming to silence AGW skeptics?
I do not wish to defend An Inconvenient Truth. As for the IPCC; Last I recall their were about 20 references the skeptics latched onto which about 5 of were factually wrong. To put this in perspective; The last IPCC report if over 1000 pages and depending on whether or not one counts gray literature there are about 13000, 18000, or 24000 references. As for the strong-arming and suppression of work critical to the consensus view; I am assuming you are talking about the "..if I have to redefine peer review!.." instance that came to light during climategate. It's worth noting the work that he tried to suppress ended up being included in the IPCC report. A rather anemic mechanism to try and push a flawed scientific theory at the world level.
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Last edited by Starwatcher162536; 01-29-2011 at 04:19 PM.. Reason: Force a meeting between fingers and mind...
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  #14  
Old 01-29-2011, 04:58 PM
BornAgainDemocrat BornAgainDemocrat is offline
 
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Smile Skeptics and Conspiracy Theorists

Just a short point on the part of this conversation about skepticism and conspiracy theorists as it relates to global warming (and other issues): a third complicating factor is peer pressure or intellectual conformity. Add in the tendency we have to accept things on authority (if the experts agree then it must be true, besides I don't have time or ability to check) and we realize that none of us is completely free of irrational or at least extra-rational influences. And I didn't even mention motives of self-interest.

I've grown fond of these two familiar characters, as much as for the silly things they say as the sensible. They keep me company during afternoon lap time.

Last edited by BornAgainDemocrat; 01-29-2011 at 05:07 PM..
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  #15  
Old 01-29-2011, 06:32 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Ultimately it is the scientists' and those who propagate their ideas, responsibility to make sure there's a distinction between what's accepted knowledge and speculation.

John seemed to have a bit of a fit about scientists indulging in cutting edge speculation while we face so many practical problems in the world. I don't think we need to point out to him how those two facts of life aren't directly related, and that if one is to look around there's plenty of other extremely more trivial and detrimental activities that people engage in while we have so many problems already. I wouldn't pick the advancement of science, even in its wild theoretical realm, as the natural adversary to solving our global problems (war, famine, climate change, health, poverty, etc.)
It's a fairly recent idea that scientists have a responsibility to society, and that society should promote the propagation of scientific understanding into the lives of all citizens. I don't want to go too far down that path.

I take some pleasure in the chaos of opinions and the marketplace of ideas. People are going to believe what they want to believe. People will study what they want to study. Benefits go overwhelmingly to those who correctly understand the world.

It makes sense to publicly fund scientific efforts that address problems of national or global importance. But outside of such projects, it's misguided to complain about how other people spend their time. Problems that are solvable will eventually be solved by people who profit in some way from that solution.

Last edited by Simon Willard; 01-29-2011 at 06:34 PM..
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  #16  
Old 01-29-2011, 07:01 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Evolution untrue?

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Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
that implies that other species are also evolving increased intelligence over time. that humans have only evolved increased intelligence at a faster rate.
Well, no, I think you're jumping to conclusions. There's no mandate for evolutionary change, just the possibility. I think mice will still be mice after 50 million years. That we can trace our own history back to small mammals is a different observation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
Is there evidence that squirrels or dolphins are smarter today than they were 10 million years ago? Is the 21st century squirrel smarter in regard to crossing the road than one back in 1970?
I really don't know. I don't think it's relevant. But evolutionary change is apparent all over the place. Just look at dogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
I definitely don't rule God out of the process, however.
As a deist, I see God embedded in every process, but in a most abstract and impersonal way. I do share the physicist's desire for a beautiful and elegant explanation for everything. Most scientists see the stories of an anthropomorphized God who intervenes in a miraculous way (outside the immutable laws of physics) as an unappealing and inelegant explanation. My own opinion is consistent with this scientific-majority view.

Last edited by Simon Willard; 01-29-2011 at 07:04 PM..
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  #17  
Old 01-29-2011, 07:06 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Some missing links

Here are some links mentioned, that I would have added to the sidebar, by George:

• John McPhee's Word Craft piece in the WSJ: "Writing a Strong Lead Is Half the Battle."

• Lawrence Krauss's Word Craft piece in the WSJ: "The Lies Of Science Writing."

• More Word Craft pieces

[Added] Another: John's moral outrage at the multiversers (mentioned starting here). Do not miss my new favorite neologism.
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  #18  
Old 01-29-2011, 07:11 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

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Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
[...] Problems that are solvable will eventually be solved by people who profit in some way from that solution.
As long as you extend your definition of "profit in some way" to include "satisfying their own curiosity," I'd agree.
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Old 01-29-2011, 07:17 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

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Today's nonsense can turn out to be tomorrow's foundational physics.
I also sympathize with John's frustration, but I would say it a little differently. The public is mislead into thinking that these string guys know a lot about the real universe via string theory. They know a lot about math, and they know a lot about the real world via their expertise in quantum mechanics. But whether today's string nonsense will be tomorrow's foundational physics is unknown at this time.
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Old 01-29-2011, 07:18 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

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As long as you extend your definition of "profit in some way" to include "satisfying their own curiosity," I'd agree.
Of course. Profit can be a spiritual profit.
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  #21  
Old 01-29-2011, 07:23 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

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Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
I also sympathize with John's frustration, but I would say it a little differently. The public is mislead into thinking that these string guys know a lot about the real universe via string theory. They know a lot about math, and they know a lot about the real world via their expertise in quantum mechanics. But whether today's string nonsense will be tomorrow's foundational physics is unknown at this time.
I agree with the last sentence. I don't see many "string guys" making strong claims about the reality of the theory's claims, however.
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  #22  
Old 01-29-2011, 07:56 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Wasted Talent

I am sort of with John on the idea of wasting incredible talent on superfluous areas of research. I am not sure that is such a problem within science though, I mean how many physicists are focused on string theory vs more applied areas?


It's worse when throngs of people gifted with incredibly bright minds reject fields like science in favor of easier and more lucrative paths like finance. It seems to produce less and waste top level talent. It would be interesting to see how the numbers actually shake out. How many people get advanced degrees in law vs finance and business vs liberal arts compared to the hard sciences.



I am not sure the problem is that the bright go into non science fields, but that they go into other fields in too high a number. Probably the same for areas like computer science. The turn around time for financial gain is probably faster for a programmer and developer than it is for someone doing research into new materials. The latter is a slower burn, so I don't expect things to change, it's just the way things are.

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  #23  
Old 01-29-2011, 08:25 PM
Tara Davis Tara Davis is offline
 
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Default Re: Evolution untrue?

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Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
that implies that other species are also evolving increased intelligence over time. that humans have only evolved increased intelligence at a faster rate. Is there evidence that squirrels or dolphins are smarter today than they were 10 million years ago? Is the 21st century squirrel smarter in regard to crossing the road than one back in 1970?
I feel no compulsion to do your homework for you, but countless studies have shown that animals DO get slightly more intelligent over just a few generations if you create an environmental condition which demands it.

If animals couldn't evolve to be smarter and more well-socialized over time, my dog would be too feral to keep in the house. All domestic pets and livestock are the product of the world's smartest animal (humans) guiding their evolution over the course of thousands of years in order to better suit our purposes.

The evolution of intelligence, like all types of evolution, is not an inevitable process of biology, but rather it's simply one trait which will (under some circumstances) increase the survivability of a gene. An ape which is more clever has a better chance of getting adequate food, of avoiding predators, and of mating, than one which is less clever. But there's more than one way to skin a cat. The LESS clever ape's gene might survive just as well, for tens of thousands of years, by being stronger and faster.
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Old 01-29-2011, 08:44 PM
Tara Davis Tara Davis is offline
 
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Default Re: Wasted Talent

When one considers that, for the vast majority of history, the bulk of scientific endeavor was applied to military needs, I'm actually very cool with a few of our best-and-brightest minds devoting their lives to speculative fantasies about how the universe only *might* be put together.

Honestly, were I made Supreme Dictator Of The World, I would mandate that every ounce of human inquiry be first applied to curing humanity once and for all of mortality. Once we can each live indefinitely in perfect states of youthful fitness and vigor, and learned how to sustain a society in which people don't die off after 8 decades or so, then we'll have plenty of time to explore the next big issue, and we'll be better capable of doing so, as we won't have people becoming enfeebled and vanishing from existence after a mere 50 or so years of advanced study, starting over with people still learning how to control when they poop.

But as we're not going to have a global dictator as wise as me any time soon, the next best thing is to let scientifically-curious minds be as free as possible to follow their bliss.
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Old 01-29-2011, 08:50 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Wasted Talent

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Originally Posted by Tara Davis View Post
When one considers that, for the vast majority of history, the bulk of scientific endeavor was applied to military needs, I'm actually very cool with a few of our best-and-brightest minds devoting their lives to speculative fantasies about how the universe only *might* be put together.

Honestly, were I made Supreme Dictator Of The World, I would mandate that every ounce of human inquiry be first applied to curing humanity once and for all of mortality. Once we can each live indefinitely in perfect states of youthful fitness and vigor, and learned how to sustain a society in which people don't die off after 8 decades or so, then we'll have plenty of time to explore the next big issue, and we'll be better capable of doing so, as we won't have people becoming enfeebled and vanishing from existence after a mere 50 or so years of advanced study, starting over with people still learning how to control when they poop.

But as we're not going to have a global dictator as wise as me any time soon, the next best thing is to let scientifically-curious minds be as free as possible to follow their bliss.
Amen.
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  #26  
Old 01-29-2011, 09:11 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Wasted Talent

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Originally Posted by Tara Davis View Post
But as we're not going to have a global dictator as wise as me any time soon, the next best thing is to let scientifically-curious minds be as free as possible to follow their bliss.
Have you considered that it's more natural for human minds to get totally blissed out by figuring out better ways to kill their enemies - than not? How about the possibility that you and I wouldn't be here - at least with the DNA that specifies who we are at this moment - unless our ancestors had gotten off on that activity. And they also had to be more competent and willing to use those methods and inventions than the other human killers and rapers running around in their day.

Humans are a violently combative species. Any human genes that pop up - that are less violently combative than average - are likely to become less represented in future generations because many of the human bodies those genes are riding around in won't last long enough to reproduce.

If we weren't blood-thirsty killers we'd be antelopes - not intelligent creative antelope eaters.
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  #27  
Old 01-29-2011, 09:18 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

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Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
It's a fairly recent idea that scientists have a responsibility to society, and that society should promote the propagation of scientific understanding into the lives of all citizens. I don't want to go too far down that path.
I don't know what you mean by the above. You don't want people to be educated or informed about science? Obviously, it would be impossible to expect that all people would be deeply knowledgeable about science, but for those who are interested, I think it's a good idea that they have access to valid knowledge.

Quote:
I take some pleasure in the chaos of opinions and the marketplace of ideas. People are going to believe what they want to believe. People will study what they want to study. Benefits go overwhelmingly to those who correctly understand the world.
The first three sentences are something like "it is what it is". Yeah, true, so what? What's the point? The last sentence is highly debatable. If that was the case we would live in a world of fairness and justice, where accurate knowledge is highly appreciated and valued. Even from the most optimistic perspective, I could agree with you with the caveat that in the very long term, perhaps those who correctly understand the world, outnumber those who don't. But at any given time, a cross sectional analysis, may show all kinds of trends that seem to contradict your assertion. Sitting back to watch how all this plays out isn't necessarily the most prudent stance. It resembles too closely the belief in the magical free markets.

I may be misinterpreting what you said, and if so, please clarify.

Quote:
It makes sense to publicly fund scientific efforts that address problems of national or global importance. But outside of such projects, it's misguided to complain about how other people spend their time. Problems that are solvable will eventually be solved by people who profit in some way from that solution.
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  #28  
Old 01-29-2011, 09:42 PM
Tara Davis Tara Davis is offline
 
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Default Re: Wasted Talent

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
Have you considered that it's more natural for human minds to get totally blissed out by figuring out better ways to kill their enemies - than not? How about the possibility that you and I wouldn't be here - at least with the DNA that specifies who we are at this moment - unless our ancestors had gotten off on that activity. And they also had to be more competent and willing to use those methods and inventions than the other human killers and rapers running around in their day.

Humans are a violently combative species. Any human genes that pop up - that are less violently combative than average - are likely to become less represented in future generations because many of the human bodies those genes are riding around in won't last long enough to reproduce.

If we weren't blood-thirsty killers we'd be antelopes - not intelligent creative antelope eaters.
I have absolutely no idea what you're point has to do with mine. You're correct that tribalism and violence are essentially artifacts of our evolution. Irrelevant, but correct.
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Old 01-29-2011, 09:55 PM
jerusalemite jerusalemite is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Reasonable Skepticism

Great episode, with one exception: George, please let John finish his sentences. You interrupt too frequently.
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:00 PM
SkepticDoc SkepticDoc is offline
 
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Default Suggestion for Nuclear Waste disposal

The Pacific plate goes back into the mantle at the "Marianas trench" at the rate of 3 inches a year, why don't we explore burying the waste containers in the trench?

The waste will go back in bowels of the Earth, get diluted with the magma and maybe the wasted isotopes will resurface in the Pacific Ridge in several million years. Wouldn't this be safer than storing them in Nevada?

http://www.platetectonics.com/book/page_12.asp

Last edited by SkepticDoc; 01-29-2011 at 10:04 PM..
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:01 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Wasted Talent

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Originally Posted by Tara Davis View Post
I have absolutely no idea what you're point has to do with mine. You're correct that tribalism and violence are essentially artifacts of our evolution. Irrelevant, but correct.
My point is that tribalism and violence are not artifacts of evolution. They are a major part of what define human nature - what it means to be human. The only reason you have the luxury of entertaining other possibilities is precisely because our immediate ancestors were better at being violent and tribal and (better weapons designers) than the other guys. They created a small bubble of peace and prosperity - a tiny blip in terms of human history - for their descendants. That would be us.
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:14 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Suggestion for Nuclear Waste disposal

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkepticDoc View Post
The Pacific plate goes back into the mantle at the "Marianas trench" at the rate of 3 inches a year, why don't we explore burying the waste containers in the trench?

The waste will go back in bowels of the Earth, get diluted with the magma and maybe the wasted isotopes will resurface in the Pacific Ridge in several million years. Wouldn't this be safer than storing them in Nevada?

http://www.platetectonics.com/book/page_12.asp
It's an idea that has occurred to me also. No one would care if those materials were deeply mixed into the mantle. But there are technical problems which are probably too daunting. How do you get the materials down there and keep them stable for several hundred years while they get sucked into the trench? Would the trench crush the containers at some point, releasing radioactive material into the water?
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:26 PM
SkepticDoc SkepticDoc is offline
 
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Default Re: Suggestion for Nuclear Waste disposal

Even if the containers were crushed, the release of isotopes would be slow and they would be diluted in the vast ocean.
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:44 PM
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Default Re: Suggestion for Nuclear Waste disposal

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Even if the containers were crushed, the release of isotopes would be slow and they would be diluted in the vast ocean.
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:53 PM
SkepticDoc SkepticDoc is offline
 
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Default Re: Suggestion for Nuclear Waste disposal

So you think it is more rational to store them inland where they are more likely to contaminate ground water?

Please , give me a break!!!

Use your noodle...

For the record, I believe we should be pursuing agricultural research, find the plants that will absorb the most CO2 in the shortest amount of time to provide Cellulose/biofuels for some of our immediate energy needs.

We need to wean off the Middle East/Venezuelan/Canadian tar sands oil tit as soon as possible...
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:55 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Suggestion for Nuclear Waste disposal

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Originally Posted by SkepticDoc View Post
So you think it is more rational to store them inland where they are more likely to contaminate ground water?

Please , give me a break!!!

Use your noodle...

For the record, I believe we should be pursuing agricultural research, find the plants that will absorb the most CO2 in the shortest amount of time to provide Cellulose/biofuels for some of our immediate energy needs.

We need to wean off the Middle East/Venezuelan/Canadian tar sands oil tit as soon as possible...
I just don't like the idea of contaminating the ocean.
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:59 PM
SkepticDoc SkepticDoc is offline
 
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Default Re: Suggestion for Nuclear Waste disposal

I agree that we should not pollute our environment, but until we evolve chlorophyll webs/panels, we need to burn carbon compounds...
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Old 01-29-2011, 11:01 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Suggestion for Nuclear Waste disposal

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I just don't like the idea of contaminating the ocean.
I guess there's too much mass to load it into rockets and shoot it into the sun or outer-space - but there's been a lot of research dollars spent looking for solutions. I'm guessing they see underground storage as temporary - at least until a few decades elapse when more advanced technology might provide a better solution. But it is dangerous stuff. The other side of that coin is that leaving it where it is is probably more dangerous and expensive than any of the serious fixes that have been proposed.
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Old 01-29-2011, 11:04 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Wasted Talent

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
My point is that tribalism and violence are not artifacts of evolution. They are a major part of what define human nature - what it means to be human. The only reason you have the luxury of entertaining other possibilities is precisely because our immediate ancestors were better at being violent and tribal and (better weapons designers) than the other guys. They created a small bubble of peace and prosperity - a tiny blip in terms of human history - for their descendants. That would be us.
True, but how we got somewhere is no guide to where we ought to go. The truth is we have better answers to the problems of life and prosperity than most of our ancestors did. We are using the same basic hardware, but different software, more advanced and optimized software in terms of delivering prosperity and happiness. Not all current running software (culture) is equally effective at achieving those ends, but that is an argument for another time.
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Old 01-29-2011, 11:05 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Suggestion for Nuclear Waste disposal

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Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
I just don't like the idea of contaminating the ocean.
This sounds a bit self serving.
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