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Fodder: Science and Doubting, Educated Conservatives....Follow

#1 Apr 05 2012 at 8:14 AM Rating: Good
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This is just an editorial from the LA times.

It discusses the results from a recent study/survey...
Quote:
Analyzing results from the General Social Survey, which has been conducted by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center since 1972, Gauchat found that for conservatives with college degrees, trust in science declined more over time than it did for conservatives with only a high school degree.

The authors reason as to why educated conservatives lost trust in science....
Quote:
Conservatives, ever wary of government interference with the free market, started to resent the scientists whose findings suggested such interference was necessary. Rather than debate remedies, they have turned on science itself.


Are we that fickle?

Are we humans (whether conservative or liberal) just fooling ourselves into thinking we can really formulate unbiased opinions, or discern actual 'fact' about, well, anything really?

Edited to provide link Smiley: blush

Edited, Apr 5th 2012 4:15pm by Elinda
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#2 Apr 05 2012 at 8:17 AM Rating: Excellent
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We are that fickle.
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#3 Apr 05 2012 at 8:21 AM Rating: Decent
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I doubt the accuracy of this survey.
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#4 Apr 05 2012 at 8:27 AM Rating: Good
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Demea wrote:
I doubt the accuracy of this survey.
What do you mean, like the findings could be biased? Smiley: tongue
Smiley: tongue
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#5 Apr 05 2012 at 8:35 AM Rating: Good
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Haha, let's all repeat each other's jokes in a slightly more obvious way.

Haha. Ha ha. Ha.

Edited, Apr 5th 2012 2:35pm by Kavekk
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#6 Apr 05 2012 at 8:42 AM Rating: Good
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Kavekk wrote:
Haha, let's all repeat each other's jokes in a slightly more obvious way.

Haha. Ha ha. Ha.

Edited, Apr 5th 2012 2:35pm by Kavekk

Way to break rank.

Loser.
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#7 Apr 05 2012 at 8:53 AM Rating: Excellent
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Can anybody find a link to the actual study/survey?

As any statistician will tell you, data is only as accurate as the person interpreting it.
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#8 Apr 05 2012 at 8:56 AM Rating: Excellent
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I know I don't trust a thing I say.

Scientists... Smiley: disappointed
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#9 Apr 05 2012 at 8:59 AM Rating: Excellent
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I doubt the accuracy of this survey.


I doubt the accuracy of your doubt.
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#10 Apr 05 2012 at 9:11 AM Rating: Excellent
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Omegavegeta wrote:
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I doubt the accuracy of this survey.


I doubt the accuracy of your doubt.


I doubt you doubt the accuracy of that doubt.
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#11 Apr 05 2012 at 9:11 AM Rating: Excellent
Demea wrote:
Can anybody find a link to the actual study/survey?

As any statistician will tell you, data is only as accurate as the person interpreting it.
We need to get Gbaji in here. He doesn't actually need to see data to make complete and accurate assessments. He'll be detailed too.
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#12 Apr 05 2012 at 10:00 AM Rating: Excellent
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#13 Apr 05 2012 at 2:34 PM Rating: Default
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Sir Xsarus wrote:
Demea wrote:
Can anybody find a link to the actual study/survey?

As any statistician will tell you, data is only as accurate as the person interpreting it.
We need to get Gbaji in here. He doesn't actually need to see data to make complete and accurate assessments. He'll be detailed too.


/shrug

I'll say the same thing I said that last time someone linked to a study like this (having to do with conservative opinions crossed with education level): The more educated someone is, the more likely they are to question conclusions presented to them that appear too pat, too convenient, and too political. It's not that conservatives disagree with "science" (the actual discipline itself), but they disagree increasingly with overly simplistic conclusions based on science, but heavily laden with political agenda. The reason for the shift over time is because during the time period in question, the political Left has actively pushed their political agenda into the realm of science, manipulating the conclusions but using the fact that "this is science!!!" to give more weight to their agenda than it really deserves.

When the science itself is being driven (and funded) for political reasons, it's not very good science anymore, and we should not just accept the results blindly. I think that educated conservatives are more likely to be able to distinguish between good and bad science and that's what you're seeing in these studies.
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#14 Apr 05 2012 at 2:49 PM Rating: Excellent
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Smiley: laugh

Ah, you.
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#15 Apr 05 2012 at 2:55 PM Rating: Good
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I don't know when I've seen so many buzzwords and talking points in one fairly short thread.

Er, post. Smiley: mad

Edited, Apr 5th 2012 4:55pm by Nadenu
#16 Apr 05 2012 at 3:04 PM Rating: Excellent
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There's certainly a case to be made that liberals* sometimes place too much trust on "experts" and "scientists" without really understanding the topic at hand, but I think that conservatives tend to needlessly reject such appeals to authority, even if/when they are valid, out of some sense of innate condescension.

Of course, we're arguing over an opinion piece from a historically left-leaning opinion page that's obviously trying to be buzz-worthy rather than the actual study, so at this point it might be equally accurate to say that highly-educated conservatives "reject science" because they all have degrees in hydrodynamics, astrophysics and comparative morality, and they've discovered that the true meaning of life runs contrary to all of the principles and findings of modern science.

*What ever happened to the term "progressives?" I haven't heard anybody use it in a few years now. Was it just a passing fad, like Zubaz?
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#17 Apr 05 2012 at 3:49 PM Rating: Excellent
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Science is having some interesting problems at the moment, IMO.

Grants tend to have short turn-around times. Sorry, but you really can't answer many questions well in 2-4 years. You tend to get a lot of papers published when the work is really half done. Doesn't help when scientists are spending half their time on paperwork. Heaven help you if you're just starting out. Really it just doesn't mesh well with a 24/7 news cycle. Saying you'll have an answer about the environmental impact of an oil spill in 5 years. Well it may take you that long to get a decent answer, but who's going to wait?

It's getting more and more competitive. Making sure you recommend good reviewers for your paper is becoming more important. People have been known to shoot down or delay your idea so they can publish it. Putting a good spin on your idea helps, but boy the liberties people will take towards the end of their discussion sections can make your head spin at times.

But scientists are people too. They're more likely to need less convincing if an idea meshes with their own views, just in general, whether political or not. Really there's a lot of pressure to get the 'facts' right quickly. Grants run out, and unless you've been at this several years your institute isn't going to cover the gap between grants. The good ones will get several years ahead, applying for grants for stuff they've already figured out in order to fund more risky endeavors and stuff, and cover their backside if something goes south.

In the end though good science does tend to win out. I mean, eventually if you try and twist the data too much things will fall through. Problem is that's 5 years later after the sensationalist new articles about how something like 'abortions prevent breast cancer!' or 'whales prevent global warming!' have hit the headlines and the politicians have had their heyday with it all. By that time nobody in the political arena really cares so much, and that's probably a good thing for those who want to capitalize on those ideas.

Anyway what were we talking about before I decided to ramble pointlessly? I seem to have forgotten. Smiley: frown
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#18 Apr 05 2012 at 4:12 PM Rating: Default
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someproteinguy wrote:
In the end though good science does tend to win out. I mean, eventually if you try and twist the data too much things will fall through. Problem is that's 5 years later after the sensationalist new articles about how something like 'abortions prevent breast cancer!' or 'whales prevent global warming!' have hit the headlines and the politicians have had their heyday with it all. By that time nobody in the political arena really cares so much, and that's probably a good thing for those who want to capitalize on those ideas.


The other problem is that increasingly, it's those sensationalist news articles that are being called "science". I don't think there's anything surprising at all that the more educated a conservative is, the more likely he will be to reject those things. He knows enough to know that's not really what science is about.
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#19 Apr 05 2012 at 4:17 PM Rating: Excellent
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Actually, anyone who really knows science knows that it is punctuated equilibrium. The sensationalist articles are just background noise, while the real science steadily chunks along, bit by bit, inch by inch. The real discoveries, the game changing ones, slip into mainstream fact so quietly we don't even think about them all that much.
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#20 Apr 05 2012 at 4:40 PM Rating: Decent
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catwho wrote:
Actually, anyone who really knows science knows that it is punctuated equilibrium. The sensationalist articles are just background noise, while the real science steadily chunks along, bit by bit, inch by inch. The real discoveries, the game changing ones, slip into mainstream fact so quietly we don't even think about them all that much.


Sure. But the science the article is talking about, and which educated conservatives tend to reject, is the sensationalist articles. Thus, it's wrong to conclude that educated conservatives "dismiss science".
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#21 Apr 05 2012 at 6:45 PM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:


When the science itself is being driven (and funded) for political reasons, it's not very good science anymore, and we should not just accept the results blindly. I think that educated conservatives are more likely to be able to distinguish between good and bad science and that's what you're seeing in these studies.

lawlz

Quote:
Conservatives, ever wary of government interference with the free market, started to resent the scientists whose findings suggested such interference was necessary. Rather than debate remedies, they have turned on science itself
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#22 Apr 05 2012 at 7:22 PM Rating: Decent
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gbaji wrote:
catwho wrote:
Actually, anyone who really knows science knows that it is punctuated equilibrium. The sensationalist articles are just background noise, while the real science steadily chunks along, bit by bit, inch by inch. The real discoveries, the game changing ones, slip into mainstream fact so quietly we don't even think about them all that much.


Sure. But the science the article is talking about, and which educated conservatives tend to reject, is the sensationalist articles. Thus, it's wrong to conclude that educated conservatives "dismiss science".


sensationalism is a highly opinion based term. Especially when using it to describe science. Science is largely based on extraordinary theories ideas that can be incorrect ideas, yet always lead to more theories and tests. Calling the ideas sensationalist is an opinion.

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#23 Apr 05 2012 at 9:10 PM Rating: Excellent
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For me, it's a balancing act. I have less faith in the actual methodology and funding processes of Science, and the way it ties into the growing Patent debacle. There is too much politicization and shading of results to fit a certain perception. There are too many studies on products or processes funded by the very companies that own those processes that are given equil weight to supposedly independant studies. Important studies are often under funded, not blind, lacking in adequate controlls, and performed by graduate students whose entire future employment and funding is based off having a flashy result that catches attention. The peer review process has failed. No one has time to attempt to reproduce studies unless they are earth shattering or potentially commercially viable, and even then, when there is time for people to attempt to reproduce them, you end up with situations like this. http://news.yahoo.com/cancer-science-many-discoveries-dont-hold-174216262.html

Science, supposedly the inviolate collection of things we "know" is based in many areas on a foundation of graduate student work that doesn't hold up under scrutney in some fields. Particularily in medical research and climate sciences. Physical research into things like aerodynamics and rail gun research tends to be somewhat easier to check, so seems to me to suffer less from this, though they have another problem where companies tend to snap up any research patents related to a specific area and sit on them, stifling real world applications to protect their own product line. And yes, I'm looking at you, battery industry as a whole...

To compound things, the various government agencies and research houses that should be providing a large portion of pure, unbiased research on a continueal basis are under assult. They were never completely apolitical, regardless of what the propaganda films of the 50's would have us believe, but its gotten much worse over the years. At the same time, budgets are shrinking, and colleagues find themselves forced to throw their comrades under the funding bus in order to secure their own projects. Couple that with shrinking saleries and benifits, and the truely "good" scientists are leaving public service in droves. The fact that it took an act of congress to get the Alpha magnetic spectrometer launched, we cancelled most of our mars missions, major climate science satilites remain unlaunched or crashed due to haveing to use cheaper, less sucessful launch alternatives is criminal.

Then we have people on all sides of issues who see no problem with lieing to further their own agenda. Are the majority of scientists dishonest? No. but it only takes a few vocal bad apples to spoil public perception. When you have 4 people talking about the same issue, each with incontrovertable proof that directly contradicts the other 3 people, someone sure as **** isn't playing fair.

I feel that the scientific method is sound. If employed properly, given enough time, and given adequate funding with an enforced level of consistancy, independance from funding sources, and adequate peer review, then science can prevail. I feel that in the current climate, a significant portion of our basic foundation research in many fields is potentially suspect. I feel the problem will get worse with time unless something is done, and I feel that the media bears an equil portion of blame in all this for sensationalizing everything they think can result in a story and not listening to evidence.

Take climate change for example. I'm a conservtive and a republican for the most part, and I believe that there is climate change, and that humans are responsable for a portion of that. I also however definitly disagree with the causes, scope, and projected timeframe for occurances. If nothing else, our understanding of how Sol and our radiation and magnetic belts interact with our atmosphere and any related heating or cooling affects is almost non existant at this time. We also don't have any kind of satilite that can accuratly measure ground temperatures consistantly and compensate for moist adiabatic lapse rate atmospheric contraction variations enough to make projections where +/- 1 degree variance has a significant effect on the outcome. What is fine for weather forcasting day to day is problematic in reconciling satilite data with ground measurements. Historical ground measurements are also problematic, given variances in equipement(particularily the recording methods), dispirate sources recording the information(some with agendas), and spotty overal coverage in some areas. They also tend to ignore or underestimate the effect of ground soak energy caused by cutting down all the trees in an area and paving everything in sight. replace 50 miles of trees with 50 miles of black tar asphalt? sure of course the weather patterns in the area are going to change. is it due to CO2 emissions? possibly not.

Thats just one aspect of science where I think that anyone who can claim "we know and understand this phenomenon well enough to make massive, sweeping environmental changes with profound economical impacts, or well enough to say at this point we can safely ignore this" is an idiot. In the 1970's we thought we were about to enter an ice age. In another 20 years, we'll probably decide that alien death rays are trying to microwave us. The point is, we don't know, and it could be somethign serious enough that we should devote a much larger research budget to the issue, at the same time striving to ensure that money is used independantly for pure climate research, but not make sweeping economically stifling changes on a "hunch".

The patent office needs to be redone as well. if you invent something, you should be compensated, but there needs to be a mechanism to encourage innovation too. Weaponization of patents in the form of patent troll lawsuits is why we don't have evryday use jetpacks yet, and you should all be ****** about that.
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#24 Apr 05 2012 at 9:35 PM Rating: Decent
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Take climate change for example. I'm a conservtive and a republican for the most part, and I believe that there is climate change, and that humans are responsable for a portion of that. I also however definitly disagree with the causes, scope, and projected timeframe for occurances ..... They also tend to ignore or underestimate the effect of ground soak energy caused by cutting down all the trees in an area and paving everything in sight. replace 50 miles of trees with 50 miles of black tar asphalt? sure of course the weather patterns in the area are going to change. is it due to CO2 emissions? possibly not.


You do understand that deforestation and paving are human caused destruction of our land and climate, right? Very few people say CO2 emissions are the end-all of climate change anymore. However, it still all ties in together because the deforestation affects CO2 levels. I'm not sure if you were attempting prove or disprove the theory of the article.
#25 Apr 05 2012 at 11:08 PM Rating: Excellent
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deforistation and paving alter localized climates. especially in the pacific northwest for example, where our trees are so large, removing them has a significant effect on localized temperature, but not so much an effect on Co2 emission reduction because they are less dense in terms of biomass than your typical rainforest trees. My point there is that most theories right now that postulate global temperature rising planetwide don't take into effect those extra hundreds of thousands of metric tons of concrete, steal and dark colored road materials and the effects those have on those temperatures. Some do. The problem is that they group all those numbers together and start making assumptions about a given reading compared to historical records before that construction, and then try and extrapolate a future temperature growth curve off of what was really a one time fairly major alteration in local layout, and then sometimes they pass it off as an atmospheric event. Most climate scientists on the "we're all gonna die in 20 years" end of the spectrum seem to heavily favor atmospheric chemical level alterations as the cause for global climate change, and they tend to insist that it is a warming trend worldwide. And it might be. It also might be due to increased radiation due to solar maximum output cycles. It might be people falsifying or altering data. it might be that people are under reporting numbers. the problem is that right now, we don't know beyond being able to say "yeah, things are warmer here" and "huh, things are actually colder over here". Some things are melting faster than expected, others are not melting nearly to predictions. Some things that were melting have been found to be due to volcanic heat changes, not atmospheric. And Trillions of dollars are at stake whichever way we decide things are going in the end.
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#26 Apr 06 2012 at 5:45 AM Rating: Excellent
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In the 1970's we thought we were about to enter an ice age.

No we didn't.
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#27 Apr 06 2012 at 6:15 AM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:
[quote=someproteinguy]

The other problem is that increasingly, it's those sensationalist news articles that are being called "science". I don't think there's anything surprising at all that the more educated a conservative is, the more likely he will be to reject those things. He knows enough to know that's not really what science is about.

Why would conservatism be a factor in level of education and recognition and/or subsequent rejection of 'sensationalist news articles?
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#28 Apr 06 2012 at 8:00 AM Rating: Excellent
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Jophiel wrote:
Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
In the 1970's we thought we were about to enter an ice age.

No we didn't.


The other 42 papers were actually cancer related and thus can be ignored per the other article.
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#29 Apr 06 2012 at 8:14 AM Rating: Excellent
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What helps me sleep at night about science is that in three more years and we'll all have flying DeLoreans at least.
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#30 Apr 06 2012 at 8:18 AM Rating: Excellent
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I doubt the accuracy of any survey, scientific or non-scientific, that is produced by any organization that has an agenda, whether that organization is left-leaning or right-leaning.
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#31 Apr 06 2012 at 8:21 AM Rating: Good
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lolgaxe wrote:
What helps me sleep at night about science is that in three more years and we'll all have flying DeLoreans at least.

That's just sensationalized science rumors that the media is spreading. Can't you tell the difference?!

The time-traveling Delorean, however, should be in the dealer lots before the decade is out.





Edited, Apr 6th 2012 4:21pm by Elinda
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#32 Apr 06 2012 at 8:22 AM Rating: Excellent
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Bigdaddyjug wrote:
I doubt the accuracy of any survey, scientific or non-scientific, that is produced by any organization that has an agenda, whether that organization is left-leaning or right-leaning.

Is there an organization without an agenda?
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#33 Apr 06 2012 at 8:25 AM Rating: Decent
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Elinda wrote:
Bigdaddyjug wrote:
I doubt the accuracy of any survey, scientific or non-scientific, that is produced by any organization that has an agenda, whether that organization is left-leaning or right-leaning.

Is there an organization without an agenda?


I should have added the word political before agenda, which would precluded you asking your question. Since I didn't, no there are no organizations with agendas. There are a few organizations left that are either devoid of political agendas or actually and truly bipartisan.
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#34 Apr 06 2012 at 8:32 AM Rating: Excellent
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I wouldn't want my scientific organization to be bipartisan anyway. It should be apolitical.

That said, people often just attach the partisan label to anything that doesn't fit what they want so then they can dismiss it out of hand with the easy excuse.
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#35 Apr 06 2012 at 8:33 AM Rating: Decent
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Jophiel wrote:
I wouldn't want my scientific organization to be bipartisan anyway. It should be apolitical.

That said, people often just attach the partisan label to anything that doesn't fit what they want so then they can dismiss it out of hand with the easy excuse.


I agree 100% with your first sentence. However, I find it's getter harder and harder to find any organization that is truly apolitical.
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#36 Apr 06 2012 at 9:25 AM Rating: Excellent
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Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
Thats just one aspect of science where I think that anyone who can claim "we know and understand this phenomenon well enough to make massive, sweeping environmental changes with profound economical impacts, or well enough to say at this point we can safely ignore this" is an idiot.


This is become more of a general problem in many fields. The shear amount of data that can be produced these days really is swamping those of us trying to keep up. Even in my own field the amount of data that used to compose an entire publication, and months of work, some 15 years ago can now be generated in under a minute. We rely on software to filter the data for us, but much of that is still in the developmental stage and it has several shortcomings. It's painful watching publications come out sometimes. You know what they're seeing may well be an artifact of the software, but you're unable to do anything about it. Sadly the researcher usually remains clueless until their 'bio-marker' starts failing miserably in further testing. Not fun seeing someone chase ghosts for 5 years. Of course other fields laugh at what we consider to be 'big' data, which really scares me sometimes.

The ability to create terabytes of data in a relativity short time is part of the problem, you also have a lot of science being done these days. Add in that cross-disciplinary projects are all the rage, and it just makes it hard to keep up with everything that going on. I have about a half dozen publications I try to follow just in my own narrow field. If we try to increase from "proteomics" to a more useful level like say "medical research" or "drug discovery" well good luck keeping up and getting your own work done.

So pretty much this. Smiley: clown


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